On August 7, 2022, my first-born son, Lane, married Pam in a lovely ceremony officiated by my husband. Here are the words we, as his parents, spoke over them.
When I was seventeen I contracted amoebic dysentery in a Papua New Guinean village while volunteering at a youth camp. I thought I might die. I could not keep anything inside me but when I stood up for the necessary bathroom visit, I fainted. My mother, a nurse by profession, held my forehead while all my bodily fluids escaped with projectile force. At night, as soon as I cried, “I need help,” my father’s feet hit the floor and raced down the hall to come to my aid. My mother soothed and my dad strengthened. I needed both for comfort in my suffering.
I walked into my bedroom and sighed in annoyance. My husband’s closet door remained open, the light shone brightly, and several drawers of his dresser lay wide open—again! Google “pet peeve” and you will find all sorts of things that irritate us.
After we have felt the feelings and admitted the reactions we experience when someone leaves our team, ministry, or church, we can then focus on how to respond well. I now offer six responses (from the upcoming book) we can implement to help us stay well when others go.
In our pre-departure orientation at Christar, I teach a workshop on change, specifically the changes one needs to expect when choosing the cross-cultural life. I begin the session by creating a timeline on a large white board. I add initials to the timeline as I recount the comings and goings of my overseas team. Over the span of ten years, our team experienced fifteen team changes, not including the normal ebb and flow of home assignment (which is difficult enough on its own). In our upcoming book, I have identified some common reactions felt by those who say goodbye to exiting teammates. I offer them here as a sneak peak.
Three times a year the Member Care Team at the Christar Mobilization Center, U.S. hosts RENEW, a five-day retreat for workers on home assignment. I wrote some thoughts for Christar's blog about how this event gives workers the opportunity to be refreshed, heard, and encouraged.
By now you probably know that my colleague, Sue Eenigenburg and I are co-authoring a book. Our working title is “Grit and Grace in Cross-Cultural Ministry” but that may change.
Each month I write a post for Bible.org for their women's blog: Engage. I am reposting this article for my Pondered Treasures readers because I believe so much in the power of effective listening.