Post-Field - Re-entry

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Returning Field Worker

Sender

Please note: there are two variations on the journey at this point.

  • Either someone is returning for a break and to reconnect with their senders in what used to be called ‘furlough’ now more often called ‘home assignment’.
  • Or they are returning home for good. What appears under each ‘milestone’ will vary according to the circumstances…

If this is just for a few months up to a year, re-entry may not be as much of a struggle as it might be for someone returning for further training (maybe for 3 years?) or permanently. The latter could be at the end of a lifetime of service or because a project or assignment has come to a close. Typically, if it is the final return, re-entry is a deeply unsettling time, when one has to come to terms with how much one has changed by immersing in another culture, and how much ‘home’ has changed in one’s absence.

Even secular ‘expats’ agree that re-entry stress can be even more difficult than the original culture shock one experienced on going abroad at the start. You need to plan well for your return, so you can take a good break, and show yourself a lot of grace.

We implore senders not to see the missionary’s return from the field as an event, but as a process, often a difficult one. Whilst everyone expects culture shock to hit a newbie at some point during the process of adaptation to the host culture, few truly understand that it can hit returnees even harder. That is quite simply because it is unexpected. After all, everyone feels, are they not just coming home? They should be happy about that. And yes, they are. But it is so much more complicated than that!

‘Home’ has changed in their absence, and they have personally been changed even more by their cross-cultural adventure. There might be feelings of guilt for leaving or grief over friends and colleagues they have left behind. There is the loss of ‘belonging’ when they come home and see how others have filled their shoes or moved on in their friendships. It may even be hard to find their way around with new traffic systems that have been introduced since they were living there. A feeling of unease can manifest in all sorts of uncomfortable ways.

We want to help sending churches understand this and not take offense if they find the newly returned missionary being moody, critical or tearful instead of happy.

Returning Field Worker

Please note: there are two variations on the journey at this point.

  • Either someone is returning for a break and to reconnect with their senders in what used to be called ‘furlough’ now more often called ‘home assignment’.
  • Or they are returning home for good. What appears under each ‘milestone’ will vary according to the circumstances…

If this is just for a few months up to a year, re-entry may not be as much of a struggle as it might be for someone returning for further training (maybe for 3 years?) or permanently. The latter could be at the end of a lifetime of service or because a project or assignment has come to a close. Typically, if it is the final return, re-entry is a deeply unsettling time, when one has to come to terms with how much one has changed by immersing in another culture, and how much ‘home’ has changed in one’s absence.

Even secular ‘expats’ agree that re-entry stress can be even more difficult than the original culture shock one experienced on going abroad at the start. You need to plan well for your return, so you can take a good break, and show yourself a lot of grace.

Sender

We implore senders not to see the missionary’s return from the field as an event, but as a process, often a difficult one. Whilst everyone expects culture shock to hit a newbie at some point during the process of adaptation to the host culture, few truly understand that it can hit returnees even harder. That is quite simply because it is unexpected. After all, everyone feels, are they not just coming home? They should be happy about that. And yes, they are. But it is so much more complicated than that!

‘Home’ has changed in their absence, and they have personally been changed even more by their cross-cultural adventure. There might be feelings of guilt for leaving or grief over friends and colleagues they have left behind. There is the loss of ‘belonging’ when they come home and see how others have filled their shoes or moved on in their friendships. It may even be hard to find their way around with new traffic systems that have been introduced since they were living there. A feeling of unease can manifest in all sorts of uncomfortable ways.

We want to help sending churches understand this and not take offense if they find the newly returned missionary being moody, critical or tearful instead of happy.

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