Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A day in the life...

What is it like when a missionary is back in the States? 

Sounds like it would be a bit of a vacation, right? Then again, some people think that our time in France was a vacation too.  Hmmm.... something doesn't line up with this sort of thinking - Maybe because it's not a vacation (though we do plan times for that.)

So what do you do while on Home Assignment (Furlough or Time back in the States)?

  1. We TRAVEL. (But wait? Don't you travel enough already?! Umm - yes.)

We're like nomads to some extent. We travel from state to state, staying with friends or family for a night here and there, sharing in churches and small gatherings along the way. People always ask us where we are from and where we live. Sometimes we tell them where we grew up and then that we are currently traveling and staying with friends. They would just give us that blank stare with their heads tilted to the side when we tell them that we have no home and all we own is on it's way to Africa or packed in our van (this time - last time we had a car!).  Thankfully, we are bunked down for a few months with friends while we travel to nearby states to share so we don't actually have to live out of our rental van.  We are SO thankful for a place to stay so we can have some stability.  Lots of people ask us why we do this sort of traveling. It's because we know people and supporters from Texas to Florida to New York to Ohio to Illinois and back down to Texas. (We don't even usually get a chance to make it to the West coast to see other friends and supporters.) It's a big circuit!

2. We actually do WORK - from "home." There's lots of prep work for life overseas.

You think you have a lot of emails to catch up on, well so do we! Mainly because we don't always have internet access & our main form of communicating with supporters is through email and newsletters and blog updates. Brent mainly responds to email and I run the blog and take photos & edit our newsletters. We also have to prepare tailor-made PowerPoint presentations and sermons sometimes. It's a large task to accurately portray another culture, one we're headed to but have not been to yet. It requires research. We also answer lots of questions & try to write hand-written Thank-you notes to our many partners.
Currently, we are comparing our packing lists (4 of them!) to make sure all that we need for Africa is there or on it's way via our suitcases. We have lists of what we sent by container, what we purchased from 2 in-country missionaries, and what remains to be brought (OTC meds and personal items for 2 years). We get our physicals, shots, passports, visas, etc. in line. Oh, and if that doesn't seem like enough, we home school two kids.

3. We CRY tears of sorrow and joy.

It's amazing to return to your homeland after a year in another culture and language. We get to see our family and friends & meet people's new babies. We say "goodbye" to our moms and dads and grandparents and siblings and cousins for two years when we leave them, even though we just came back from being away for a year. We get to know so many friends' families better when we stay with them. We went to a Memorial Day party at my friends' aunt's house and I just cried. It was picturesque Americana! Something I had missed terribly while we were in France. We had a 4th of July party with some other Americans in France last year and it was close but not the same. You can't get yellow mustard there. French people were asking us what we were doing. It was great but odd. What a sense of relief I felt as I shared Memorial Day this year with Americans, some of whom were Veterans. I thought to myself, I will miss this for the next two years. Not much will be the same in Africa.We are all excited, but sometimes we feel sad knowing our kids will miss out on things like Little League. We are so filled with joy to see our kids turn into happy little travelers who can get along with anyone and adapt to almost any new situation with little trepidation.

4. We RELAX and do some family maintenance.

We, just like you, get overwhelmed or stressed out or tired or even sick. We have had to learn to add in times of rest and fun as a family in our travels. I personally need to sit and do a craft or read a book to relax a bit. Our kids need to watch a family film now and then. Brent and Ethan need to get outside to play sports. We need to soak in time with the Lord as we listen to praise music. We all need to sleep and take times to unwind. There is a lot of stress that comes with transitioning between cultures and being in a constant state of upheaval (think of how many times we have to pack and unpack!).

Please keep us in your prayers as we find balance.
This missionary life is hard 
even though it's the adventure of a lifetime!

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