You’ve just returned on home assignment. And the first thing someone asks is, “How was it?” (Or my personal favorite: “How was Africa?” “How was the Middle East?” etc. Hmm. I haven’t asked…all of them.)
Do I unleash the fire hose with my one hour spiel?
Do I shrivel up? “Um. Y’know. It was good.”
You want to be positive. Relevant. Authentic. And you want your (currently oblivious) listener encouraged, i.e. not bowled over…without perpetuating global work myths: Every cockroach was so worth it! I shared my faith every day 46 times!Who needs sleep? Not me.
None of us had heard an audible voice, to my knowledge. That would have been nice, considering all the times you wonder what in the world you’ve gotten yourself into; all the times you’re second-guessing because the work and the results didn’t look how you thought. Did I hear you right?
My first trip to the grocery store in East Africa was….overwhelming. There may have been some tears when I got home.
Maybe it was worse because I didn’t expect grocery shopping to be a source of stress. My friend had been raving about how she loved this grocery store. And I was excited to finally dive in to cooking for my family and not relying on the kindness of other members of our expat community for meals.
But there I was, swallowing back tears. A few example factors (many of which may seem lame, but made sense in my culturally-overwhelmed season of life):
Today we’re thrilled to welcome Ellie Ciccarelli, a vibrant Colorado native who found new purpose in the mountains of Kenya, were she now serves the Digo people with Africa Inland Mission. The honest thoughts in this post first appeared on Ellie’s blog, Kenya Digo It?
The next time you want to ask me, or any global worker, why we’re so tired, please read this first.
Have you ever lived abroad? Have you ever lived among another people group? Have you ever stuck out like a sore thumb no matter where you turn? Have you ever tried to speak a different language 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Have you ever had to be conscious of everything you said, you did, you wore, you ate, you implied, all the time?
Many of us realize too late that our idea of “home cookin'” involves adding water to a package of muffin mix. Before going overseas, you might want to have a talk with someone eligible for AARP. Ask them how to bake a cake. Or prepare vegetables.
Here at Go. serve. Love, we’re all about bringing you tools you can use to truly go there, serve Him, and love them well. So we’re stoked about today’s offering: a printable, flexible timeline infographic to help you start picturing the journey there. (You can find it on our Tools for Your Trip page, too, along with our first infographic: 7 Standards of Excellence for Your Global Work.)
Nope, this won’t encompass everything. But you’ll start to see how all this comes together, and maybe even if you’ve been missing anything. (In fact, if you think we’re missing a key element, feel free to comment below!)
Overwhelming? Sho ’nuff. But most journeys worth taking are.
Today Go. Serve. Love is pumped to welcome back Rachel Pieh Jones–marathon runner, camel rider, mom, cookbook author of Djiboutilicious, and general all-out lover of Djibouti. This post originally appeared on her blog, Djibouti Jones.
From Rachel’s blog, Djibouti Jones:this post has stirred up controversy and passion that I confess I was naively not prepared for. I understand that many feel judged and I can see why and I apologize. This is not a list of commandments and it is a list of things I have done/still do. It is not a call for feelings of guilt or failure. It is not a perfect list based on research or facts. Mostly, it was meant to be a fun way to look at the choices we make as expats, with tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, which doesn’t translate well via the written word. I’m not going to change the post to soften the reactions people bring to it, I’m simply saying that I hear you, I’m sorry to have caused offense, and I’m human, both as an expat and as a blogger.
Hey all you expats…here are some things we need to stop doing. You’ll last longer overseas, enrich your time, leave a more positive impression, and you will never be the same. (Confession: I’ve done/do all of them myself, so an added bonus, #21 Remember no one is stagnant.)
Back in the day when my husband and I were first considering a financially-supported ministry, I was so stinkin’ geared up to raise my own salary pretty much against it from the get-go. And I’d even seen my parents do it (and do it well). In fact, since I knew what it involved, I was like, reasons not to go: 1) We have to raise financial support. (It may have also been reasons #5 and #8.)
But it’s been 14 years now. Just as God used to sell a certain number of books to keep me employed or bring a certain number of tithing Christians to church to pay my salary, he continues to sustain my family through people who catch the vision for what we’re doing around the world.
And there are a lot of reasons I’d call my old self up on the phone and say, Do this.