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TCKs in Love: Lauren Abernethy and Ben Gault

Lauren Abernethy, 20, has lived in North Carolina, Liberia, Jamaica, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and Quebec.
Ben Gault, 20, has lived in New York, Central African Republic, Quebec, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Cameroon and West Virginia.

Wedding Date: December 17th, 2011
Wedding Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Over a game of Steal The Bacon during a Bible study night in San Pédro, Republic of Côte D’Ivoire, 11-year-old Lauren tripped over 11-year-old Ben and thought to herself, “What a rude and irritating boy, tripping over a girl!”

Little did she know that a brief eye contact between them moments before had Ben’s heart racing so fast his face turned beet red.

“It was like in the movies where the guy sees a pretty girl and everything else suddenly slows down,” Ben said as he described walking into the room and seeing Lauren playing with another missionary’s baby. As the screen door slammed loudly behind him, Lauren looked up and found Ben staring at her, blushing. Ben has no recollection of tripping Lauren, but was happy that he at least made a lasting impression on that “pretty girl.”

Shortly after, Lauren became good friends with Ben’s sister and frequently spent time over at the Gaults’ house playing. Ben was so eager to spend time with Lauren that during one play date, Ben flew a paper airplane into the girls’ playroom with the message, “Can I play Barbies with you two?”

Lauren was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, to missionary parents who were forced to evacuate Liberia in 1990 amid growing civil unrest from the blood diamond trade. Lauren’s mother was seven months pregnant at the time.

One year after Lauren was born, her parents returned to Liberia and subsequently spent alternating years living, learning and working in Jamaica, North Carolina, Côte d’Ivoire and Canada. It was the middle of 7th grade in Bouake, Côte d’Ivoire, when a coup d’etat broke out and Lauren’s family was forced to flee the country for good. The family settled down back in Charlotte, North Carolina, but Lauren said she had a difficult time in junior high school feeling the culture shock of being in America, her supposed “homeland.” She missed Africa dearly and yearned for the day when the family could return once again.

However, Lauren slowly warmed up to the notion of being an American in America. She attended Central Piedmont Community College, majoring in general education, and obtained her massage therapy license through Kaiser University. Lauren is currently completing online courses at Appalachian College for Bible certification.

Ben was born in Johnson City, New York, to second-generation missionary parents. At the age of 4, Ben and his family moved to Quembei in the Central African Republic where they lived for one year and was evacuated when a civil war broke out. The family then moved to Quebec, Canada, where Ben attended a French school. He recalled only loving recess because that was the only school topic where French was optional. Following Quebec, Ben was uprooted several times, moving between San Predro in Côte d’Ivoire, Meadeville in Pennsylvania, Hanoverton in Ohio and Yaoundé, Cameroon. The family finally settled in Yaounde, where Ben completed his last three years of high school at Rainforest International School. He returned home to the States and enrolled in Appalachian Bible College in West Virginia, where he graduated with a double major in Bible theology and mission.

“We have always had a crush on each other,” recalled Ben, describing how both Lauren and Ben’s parents often teased them about their mutual crushes while growing up. However, the couple lost touch after leaving San Pedro and credited their reconnection to Facebook. “We had this natural easy going friendship with each other,” Lauren said. The couple dated for a little over a year and a half before they decided to make their relationship permanent.

Ben had kept the ring for three months before proposing. It was the weekend before Easter when Ben and Lauren went on their regular hike to Diamond Point. The weather was rainy, but the view was so stunning, there was no other perfect time. “Looking down at God’s beautiful creation, it was a breathtaking moment,” Lauren said with a sigh in her voice. She could not recall what Ben was saying but a small red box caught her eye. “Let’s do something we’ve never done before,” Ben told Lauren, before he pulled out the box from his pocket and presented it to a very stunned Lauren. After taking a few moments to regroup, Lauren answered, befitting her TCK roots: “Yes, Oui, Si!”

The couple will be married on December 17th in Charlotte, North Carolina. Adorning the ceremony will be African decorations.

Are you a recently married Third Culture Kid or Global Nomad? We would love to feature you in this column. Please email weddings editor Carol Lin at

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