40 days ago I started a social media and blog writing fast. I was convicted of how negative I was – the blogs I wrote were negative and I couldn’t see the positive. Also, I was growing quite judgmental at status updates from FB (Facebook) friends and I wanted to keep FB friends so I knew I needed to stop looking at FB. During the fasting time I focused my attention not to what’s new in FB world, but what’s new that the Lord wants to show me. I read a book titled Expectations and Burnout. This is an excellent book that I highly recommend to anyone thinking of serving in foreign missions, has served in foreign missions or would like to understand more those who serve in foreign missions. I gleaned from that book many things, however, one thing that stood out is how many times foreign missionaries are disillusioned.
Recruiters who recruit potential foreign missionaries don’t share negative things, but only positive things. Initial training is also positive, not the realistic. We had a training that did share more of the realistic, potentially negative pits that we could fall into. When potential foreign missionaries have that adrenaline excitement flowing through their veins of being called, it’s hard to hear the hard things that could potentially be a pit fall. When one reads the biographies of foreign missionaries, it’s another form of not hearing the whole story, so all this leads to unspoken and maybe unknowing expectations. These unknown or unspoken expectations rest in that person and that person may not even know they are lying there until they are unmet. Once the expectation is unmet, the person goes into a tailspin and many times can’t identify why he/she is on a downward spiral or why they are reacting so heavily in a certain situation. Layered unmet expectations, along with daily life struggles (because life takes about ten times longer to live than in their passport country) all lead to burnout. I will admit that we are in a burnout state and need time to decompress. We feel we have lived a whole life of experiences, struggles, joys, etc.. in the past six years of living overseas. So reading this book written by women who have served a full career as foreign missionaries and sharing what they have learned was much appreciated.
I had three colleagues who loved on me through bathing prayer during this fasting time. I also was able to connect with a fellow missionary who has been serving in Cameroon for about 18 months. I really didn’t know her and we had an opportunity to share deeply with the common denominator of both our families are in the midst of transition leaving in the next several weeks. It was great getting to know her and sharing with her as well about the aforementioned book. I’ve also been able to dig deeper into God’s Word through different Bible studies and have been able to enjoy a fun book written by a colleague who serves in Papua New Guinea. It’s been a great time of refreshment and attitude adjustment.