Imagine this scenario:
You’ve been on the mission field a little over one year (pick any culture or country). Your family has made some progress in language and culture acquisition, but it’s still rough. You’re exhausted most days because it takes major effort to do basic everyday things like cook, shop, and take the kids outside. If you’re honest with yourself, there are many days when you entertain the thought of packing it all up and heading back to your home country.
Your emails back home are full of smiles and progress, but there’s so much “behind the scenes” you feel like you can’t share. You’re afraid of looking like a failure.
Photo by Douglas DeMelo
Your marriage isn’t bad, but it could be better. Culture stress causes stress at home, and it’s been hard lately to show grace to each other. Your kids struggle with the language, and you wish you could help them more — all you can do is hug them empathetically when they cry about missing ‘home.’
Finances are tight. A week away — just a break from the 24-7 language and culture stresses, and perhaps a little down time to reconnect as a family — would be perfect. But your support is down, and any funds that come your way need to go to the groceries, not an “unnecessary” vacation.
But you know that if you don’t do something to recharge, you could be in trouble. You see all the other workers around you, and it seems like they’re dropping like flies. One family recently left because of health reasons, but under the surface, a lot of those health issues were emotional and mental instability caused by intense pressure on the job. Another family left because of team issues — they just couldn’t work with their team leaders, who were nice enough, but unable to get out of the cloud of their 15 years on the field to remember the challenges of newbies. The nonstop pressure from them was just too much.
A single friend of yours left because the loneliness was overwhelming, and depression soaked up her brain cells. And heart-breakingly, a married couple with two young children left the field because of infidelity. Five years ago, before they left for the field, they would have never guessed this could possibly happen to them.
If you were this family — celebrating your one year of survival in a new culture by staying alive — what would be your ideal solution for finding a break? Remember, you don’t have the funds to take a vacation:
a. Call your pastor from home for encouragement. Sure, it’s not really getting away, but a kind word is better than nothing.
b. Write your parents and ask for a loan so you can take a vacation somewhere. It’ll put you in debt, but you’re desperate.
c. Suck it up, ask for forgiveness from God for not being willing to sacrifice enough, and beg for strength to get through another day.
d. Find a place that exists exclusively for people like you — a simple ‘getaway’ home that allows you to recharge, reconnect as a family, and if you want, talk with life coaches (fellow ‘workers’) that can encourage you to keep on keepin’ on. It’s close to home, so you don’t have to go all the way back to your home country if you don’t want, and it’s a place you can visit annually, if needed.