Tuesday Topic: Thriving Long-term

From Kara in Russia: What do you think it takes to thrive long-term overseas?

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to formissionarymoms@gmail.com . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

5 Responses to “Tuesday Topic: Thriving Long-term”

  1. 1 Ashley L April 9, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Clearly I am having difficulties with this whole pre-scheduling function lately. Oops! Enjoy the extra day to discuss our Tuesday Topic this week! =)

  2. 2 Ashley L April 10, 2012 at 11:16 am

    And even if you haven’t been overseas for what you’d consider “long-term,” feel free to share things that you’ve heard from others or things that you see that are helping you thrive now and that you think will contribute to your thriving the future!

  3. 3 Lori April 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    We’ve been on the field for 7 years…these are two things we’ve found most helpful in getting us to this point.

    1) Immersing in culture and language 100%. For us this meant moving to a rural village with no other English speakers and surviving until we could communicate and bond with the people we are ministering to. Other missionaries and ex-pats will come and go, but if you are bonded with the people… if your friends and “family” are the people you work with, it will be much easier to stay for the long haul.

    HOWEVER, Within our first 4 months of living the above extreme life of immersion, both my husband and I (who are both in very good health) were hospitalized.Our bodies were telling us to slow down! A veteran missionary told us that we HAD to have a refuge if we wanted to make it long term. So the second point is….

    2) Make sure you have a refuge and use it! For us this meant having a second home in the city (with aircon and electricity, internet, etc) about an hour away from our rural home. We spent about one week a month, basking in English language, solitude, home culture food, etc. This allowed us to be 100% available when we were in the culture… and yet not to burn out.

    I think these two elements can be adhered to in many different ways depending on each missionary’s situation… maybe you immerse yourself 100% during the day… but take refuge at home at night. However, you do it, the point is to find that balance between fully engaging in culture, while at the same time protecting and nurturing yourself.

  4. 4 Erin S April 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I definitely agree with Lori! Try to make as many local friends as possible and resist the urge to stay in a “missionary bubble.” Also don’t compare (as much as possible) your home culture and your adopted culture–just accept them as two different entities, but not one better than the other. Ask God to give you a great love for your adopted nation, and consider every day a labor of love, including every time you get criticized for being a foreigner or different, for having an accent, for not knowing their way of doing things. Every morning give God thanks for the priveledge of serving Him in that culture. Having a grateful and joyful attitude makes a world of difference!

  5. 5 Ashley L April 11, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    I love your thoughts, Lori and Erin!!!

    Two more things that I remember being emphasized at our cross-cultural training were the importance of abiding in Christ and of remaining flexible. They discussed how the temptation would likely come to be constantly ministering to others but how easily in the midst of “spiritual work” we can be temptated to neglect our personal relationship with God. I belive that we cannot thrive in anything, life overseas or anything else, unless we are truly abiding in Him! Also, remaining flexible has proven to be a necessity since things often do not go as planned and life overseas often comes with big surprises and many inconveniences. The less flexible I am when things don’t go as expected, the harder life is, and the more that I can be flexible (by the grace of God) when such things come my way, the more that I grow and life continues on a good path.

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