My daughter, Jana, is home from Burundi. She has completed her commitment to YFC Burundi and is no longer on the mission field.
Along with being home, comes a lot of emotions and change.
Jana is spending the summer decompressing. She is tired, not so much physically, but emotionally. God called her to Africa in 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 2012 and left for Africa in Jan. 2013. During that time, she worked hard and fundraised. While in Africa, she worked non-stop and when she was back in the states, she spent her time fundraising and networking.
I did not realize the struggles missionaries go through until my daughter became one. I thought the struggles were different than they are. I thought missions work was fulfilling because you were doing the “work of the Lord.” It is, but it is also exhausting. I thought it was exciting to live in a foreign country. It is, but it is also frustrating and lonely. I thought it would be cool learning about different cultures. It is, but it is also difficult because you must be culturally aware at all times (the last thing you want to do in inadvertently offend the very people you are there to serve) and the people, while wonderful, do not think like you do and you have to adapt to their ways; they don’t adapt to yours.
One of Jana’s fellow missionaries found this post online and it pretty much sums it up:
When a missionary returns home, how should you respond? Our first reaction is to want to see them immediately upon arrival home. We want to hear all the great stories and about the great exploits that were done “in the name of the Lord.” What missionaries need upon returning home is time to process and decompress. They need your love and support and most importantly they need your prayers. They are trying to re-establish themselves into American culture. My daughter has commented that she feels like she has been under a rock the past two years.
Most missionaries still need financial support once they return to the states. They need new clothes and probably need a car. They need to find jobs and get insurance, a place to live and so on. My husband and I are helping our daughter financially but I don’t know what she would do without us.
So if you know a missionary from your church who is returning from the mission field, remember to give them your love and support, give them space, and consider helping them financially.
All dreams come with a price, even being a missionary.