If you read my previous post (you can do so here), you know we’re are in preparations for a transition back to America. Our sending organization sent us a few questions to reflect on as a way to ease the transition. When I read them, the answers felt like they would be excellent posts for this blog. They allow me to process and my readers to learn more about this journey.
The second prompt is “Looking back on your latest term, what would you like to do differently next term (personally, relationally, ministerially)? (I’m not sure that last word is even a word.)
Personally, I will bring less stuff! Both literally as in actual baggage and also the metaphorical emotional/spiritual baggage we all tend to carry around.
I’m what my mother likes to call a pack rat. I have a hard time getting rid of things. Well, I use to. Mike, my husband, would say I’m pretty cut-throat these days. If it doesn’t serve me a good purpose, why keep it around? We brought too much stuff. Household things, baby things, clothes – all of it was just a little much.
When we were packing, the idea of being at home with Eli the majority of the time hadn’t really sunk in, so I packed as if I would be “going into work” every day. I definitely needed more t-shirts and comfortable clothes to wear around the house. We also we hadn’t quite figured out that babies really don’t require much, so we were kind of overkill on blankets and burp cloths and all the cute baby things.
Relationally, Mike says I’m “weird” or an “oddity” when it come sot friendships. I honestly think it’s his Type 7 coming out, haha. I love making new friends. If I meet someone and we connect in even a small way, you’re my friend for life. One of my dearest friends is a lovely woman named Naomi. We met in 2008, I believe, and lived in the same town for a whopping nine months. During that time, we weren’t even in the same small group, just good friends in a ministry. It’s 2020, and I still count her as a close friend. I haven’t seen her since 2014 when I got married. She has two little girls (and a boy almost here) whom I have yet to meet. We video chat maybe twice a year. We voice memo on Facebook Messenger weekly, haha. I don’t know what it is other than the Holy Spirit binding us together that made us feel like soul sisters.
In my short time as global worker, I’ve discovered that some in my line of work tend to keep people at arm’s length. People are constantly coming and going, never knowing how long a furlough will take or where they will land in the next term. Add in children whom you have to explain buddies moving, and it’s really hard to make lasting connections. It’s completely understandable, it was just a foreign idea to me at the time.
Our ministry assignment before this was a fun situation. We were working with people who were basically our family, our very close friends. We were friends and then became coworkers as God lead us to work in the same ministry context. Currently, all our coworkers were strangers who had to become a co-laborers, friend and built in family. It was very different for us. Two years in, though, and I know I am surrounded by people who will be my friends for life – whether in Indonesia, California or Chicago!
I know for sure I won’t have reservations about people’s motives in relationships. Although our previous assignment was with people close to us, I can reflect and see times where perhaps there was too much closeness, or maybe boundaries crossed. Because of some of that, I know I initially had walls up when I arrived in Indonesia. Add in that I was a new mom surrounded by people without babies, it was difficult to know where I stood relationally. There’s even more to unpack there, I’m sure.
As far as ministry goes, I won’t spend as much time worry about how much I should be doing in “ministry.” My sole ministry in this season is to Eli and Mike. I want to raise Eli as a man of God who knows the Word and the voice of the Father. I want to be a wife who supports Mike in any way I can whether that’s reading over a message, sending out our newsletter, brainstorming ideas for a class or editing a paper for his Graduate School classes. Obviously, prayer is my most important practice in either of these areas. In this season, my main focus is at home.
Having said that, I greatly enjoyed the opportunities I had to preach and teach and share the love of God. I am an ordained minister, after all. I also enjoyed the mentoring roll I was able to have in the lives of my fellow expats. Peer mentoring with women slightly younger than I has become one of my favorite things. And, who knows, with Eli getting older and more independent, maybe I’ll be able to “do” more next term. I truly believe only time and the Lord will tell.
I’m glad I decided to reflect on these prompts as posts. It’s given me content to share and truly helping me reflect. Come back soon as I take on one or two more reflections for this season of transition.
Thanks for reading,