oh boy. only 3.5 months now. might as well start preparing now. thanks so much for this!
Coming home from the mission field
Ever been on the mission field and away from home from for extended time? Coming home can be difficult. Of course you miss so much about home. You miss your friends, the food, the things that made life comfortable. But on your way home, you can get sideswiped by stuff you didn’t expect.
1. Common problems
- the shock of material abundance,
- enormous waste,
- the frantic pace of life,
- and the seemingly narrow and provincial attitudes.
What family and friends can do: Show interest. Don’t be offended when they criticize. Don’t put them on the defensive. Don’t pressure them for visits. Don’t spring the family problems on them. Be patient?
What you can do: Say goodbye well. Deliberately draw out your assumptions in advance and consider them. Don’t jump to conclusions. Give yourself time and be patient with yourself. Ask questions of the people back home. And listen to them. Find other returnees for a sympathetic ear.
2. Not fitting
The honeymoon may last a week or a few weeks as you travel and visit friends and enjoy being a minor celebrity. And you do all the things you’ve missed while overseas. It’s a bit like vacation.
Returning missionaries face the question of what they accomplished. Some results may be obvious; others may be very indirect or very slow ripening. Those who have supported the ministry may not be able to appreciate the value of your work.
They may react to the dissonance of values between abroad and home, the general permissiveness of the culture, the increasingly violent and sexually explicit entertainment, the availability of drugs, the crime and violence in society, and the loose morals of young people.
Missionaries may be unable to reconcile it with their image of themselves as tolerant, caring, nonjudgmental individuals who also happen to be good at crossing cultures. Doubt arises. “If I can’t love and get along with my own kind, how can I care for and minister to those I work with overseas?” To have their self-image undermined like this is a serious matter.
Thanks for this insight and encouragement. It will be very helpful. Our daughter will be coming back in Dec. I have been warned of things so I am listening for advice. Mostly praying for God to prepare me and help me to be an encourager for her. God has used you today to help me so thanks again. Praying for your mission and your ministry.
funny you’d comment just as your daughter was commenting, noting the very things you wanted her to see. Your prayers were already answered!
We’ll be sure to give her hugs at debrief in Cambodia for you.
Would love to meet these fine Yoder folks someday. Reading Sheila’s blog has been a real joy and Blessing.
Thanks for this. So good!
Awesome ideas for goers and those that stand by them.
This is good- after a year of being strangers in strange lands we came home strangers in a strange land
realize we are just passing through, vapors in the wind- it’s all temporary, all part of the journey
Thank you for this. I’m very worried about it!
I needed to read this, and need to get that book. I currently feel like such a stranger at home.
I’ve been home for about 3 months now, and this STILL applies to me. It is still hard for me to be back in the States. This sounds like a great book, I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for the advice 🙂
I’m with Kimberly…I’ve been home for 3 months and I am still working through a lot of this stuff. Thank you so much for outlining this and for sharing about the book…sounds incredibly helpful!