Why Your Missionary Friends Might be a Little Stressed Returning to the Field Right Now

There are some awesome benefits returning to the mission field after a furlough:

  • You’ve had a whole furlough to think and speak in your first language and culture and you’ve been able to give your brain a break so you are feeling ready and excited about language learning again
  • You’ve had time to share stories and get amped up about why God has called you to the field

Not to mention you’ve enjoyed a furloughs worth of fast food and dishwashers and dryers and other conveniences so you’re rested up and ready to take on the challenge of cooking from scratch and washing EVERYTHING by hand. (Here’s a sneak peek of how we’ve been cooking/eating):

Market mornings are intensive, but the fresh produce makes it worth it!
Zucchini noodles and homemade "alfredo" sauce - so proud of this meal!
Timothy loves passion fruit!

And most importantly:

  • YOU’RE NOT THE NEWBIE ANYMORE. Going back is familiar and you know what’s going on and you get to jump past the stress of being the new person who knows nothing and has to learn everything.

Now these are pretty gross generalizations, but there are some nice benefits to being back in one’s country of origin.

Only this time… COVID-19 happened.

For many of your missionary friends, COVID made their furloughs extra stressful. Existing during COVID-19 felt JUST LIKE LIVING OVERSEAS. The rules of interaction were new, you couldn’t interact any of your friends except over video or text, and you were never sure if you’d be able to find toilet paper at the store. Some of your missionary friends may have been pulled from the field due to concerns about the virus and may be finding that they can never go back. Others are trying to get back but the hoops they need to jump through are confusing and crazy. Others have watched their ministry completely fall apart as their friends and supporters lives have taken one financial hit after another.

And instead of getting to ride the comfortable wave of being the “returnee” we find ourselves instead feeling a bit like the new guy again, because it wasn’t just our country of origin changed by the virus, and it wasn’t just our little bubble of existence that changed—but the whole world. The countries we served in have changed too, and the communities we live amongst while overseas have been impacted forever by this virus.

So we may be returning to a familiar landscape (which is wonderful in so many ways), but a lot of familiar faces are missing, and the rules of interacting have changed AGAIN, and we have to learn how to exist in our adopted home ALL OVER AGAIN.

In addition, many of us are quarantining upon return to our adopted homes and the two weeks of isolation is HARD.

Back in our country of origin we had a lot of comforts to get us through, but in our adopted home it began to feel so lonely. In our heads we knew people were excited we were back, but in our hearts we so desperately wanted to get to hug someone and hear their voice and know that we have a place here because we left all that we knew and loved to be here, and we NEED community to thrive.

So your missionary friends may be a little stressed right now. They are trusting God to have all things in hand, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a little hard sometimes. They are juggling multiple levels of culture shock, many of which would NOT have been as much of an issue if it were not for the virus.

And even though it’s hard, and even if we haven’t figured our all the new rules yet, we are still glad to be “home.”

As always, thank you for supporting our ministry. Donations are never required, but definitely appreciated.

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