Dear Future Missionary, I want you to know I feel you. I see your heart bursting with promise with all you will do. And I say yes, bring your expectations, your passion, your wild and crazy ideas, your belief that you can change the world and anything is possible. It’s what gets us all here, it’s the motivation to leave everything behind and board that plane to an uncertain destination. Because this work of love and justice requires you are a little crazy. We need the idealism and enthusiasm on nights when we wonder why we ever came. Don’t wait.
At the age of twenty-four, I founded a ministry to help rehabilitate girl child soldiers in a war-torn region of Uganda. It was a ton of hard work. I was young, full of idealism and naiveté and I didn’t know very much then about how to build a thriving culture. As people came alongside me in my vision, I became responsible not just for me, but for my team as well. This created layers of complexity I wasn’t quite sure how to navigate. More people meant more pressure, more consideration of other’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, decisions and disagreements. I had the
I haven’t been writing much lately. Life happened. I’d wanted to fall into summer’s sandy shores and slowed time with abandon. But mostly I got anxiety and tumult. I’m not a busyness lover, I’m a stillness lover. I always know I’m not doing well when the ink from my pen dries up. I hit a deep soul weariness that cratered larger than physical exhaustion. It wanted to swallow me whole. Last week, I hit a wall. A sense of being so done. Ever have one of those weeks where Murphy’s Law is excruciatingly apparent? Everything that can go wrong, does, all at the same time?
For years I have been fascinated by trauma and PTSD. Having experienced much of this myself, I’ve studied to help those in war torn regions and missionaries heal from their pain. What I’ve learned is trauma and PTSD can often be a silent killer among missionaries and aid workers. I teamed up with my strong and vibrant friend Jessika Tate, a fellow missionary, whose story of battling PTSD inspired me. There’s a fierceness and compassion in her eyes as she holds her coffee cup and shares her story at my kitchen table in Redding, California. You would never know she’s been through
With summer missions trip season upon us, I decided to repost a very popular blog about short term missions. Needless to say, there has been a ton of debate around the topic of how to do short term missions trips well, and it’s a sensitive issue. I’ve read countless articles and heated debates on blogs, both lauding and criticizing short term missions/volunteer trips. There is everything out there from, “It’s a total waste of resources that could be better spent, to “It changed my life,” to “It’s self serving ” to “Where will my funding come from if I don’t let the
What to do with all this longing? All of us are longing for something. We’re longing for a husband, we’re aching to have children, we’re aching for the ones we lost, we’re longing to be seen and known by our friends, to feel successful, we’re longing to feel like we’ve finally “made it.” (Whatever that means.) We’re longing for justice. There’s a man in Syria in an IDP camp who is longing to feed his family, who is longing for his homeland. When I think about him, my problems pale in comparison. He convicts me with his hope. But still. Pain
In January of 2013, after 6 years of running a non-profit in Uganda I moved off the field back to the USA and struggled terribly with re-entry. There were many good, wise reasons for this move, including listening to God’s voice, and hitting burnout, but none of them seemed justifiable enough to qualm the voice in my head that echoed with the fact that in leaving I had somehow failed. It seemed like so many things had gone wrong. And I blamed myself. When I left Uganda, I wondered if God still had a plan for me or if I’d somehow messed
This year is six years, six years since we lost our first baby, six years since the toilet clotted blood. Last week was National Infertility Awareness Week and it pulls me back to the memories like my eyes to the scene of a car crash. I can see myself on the floor. Praying. Begging. Being willing to do anything not to lose him. What kinds of bargains we try and make with God in those moments. I don’t know if it was a him, but I imagine it so. So many times I blamed myself. Shouldn’t have been working so hard.
“Often the real trauma is feeling mistreated, bullied, or discriminated against by our own fellow humanitarians, those who should be there to share the same values and ideals.” –Alessandra Pigni- In general, conflict in relationships is one of the most difficult things to manage. This is especially true when serving overseas. Team conflict with other missionaries and missions’ agencies can be especially devastating. In my life coaching work, I hear stories all the time of heartache, frustration, and hopelessness surrounding these relationships. In fact, a 1997 study by the World Evangelical Alliance found that conflict with peers was the TOP preventable reason North American
It was 2006 and I was sitting in a dimly lit room in Rwanda listening to a female genocide survivor tell me her story of rape and torture. Most of the time her face remained distant, as though she was recounting something that happened to someone else. A fly buzzed around the office table. I could feel my legs perspiring against the wooden chair, the room stifling with heat. A fan whirred in the corner, but I could barely feel it. At one point this woman broke down, she pressed a dingy white handkerchief against her eyes, as though to hide
Writer. Missionary Coach. Recovering perfectionist. I want you to know that you are loved and already good enough. I am about helping people move from brokenness into wholeness. Together, we'll make a more beautiful world.
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