Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday Topic: Furlough holidays

From a reader: Does anyone have any advice about furlough during the holiday season? Last time we were back we had a lot of culture shock, cold weather shock, and family drama shock. Thanks!

(If you have a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to me at fylliska@gmail.com. Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, or specify if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)


  1. Except for the cold weather shock, we've been there! The only thing you can do about the cold is dress warmly, drink warm drinks, stay inside. :)

    When it comes to culture shock, lower your expectations and do a little at a time. Don't be like me and take this long list to WalMart...

    Family drama - if you can, stay uninvolved. We got caught up in it last furlough and it was horrible. Give nuggets of biblical wisdom and promise prayer, that's it.

    I hope this helps a little, maybe someone else has some other tips. Blessings!

  2. Just an addition to my comment above is that we actually did have cold weather shock! Not in relation to leaving a tropical field and going to the US, but moving from Florida to Ukraine. We spend more time outdoors getting from point A to point B here, more than we ever did in the US, so that made our situation a bit different. :)

  3. Good topic!

    I don't know that I have tons of advice on how to avoid those issues (Karen had some good thoughts!), but one thing that helps me is to try to protect a certain amount of personal space and down-time when at all possible. I feel like when I am running around all of the time, everything gets to me more, but if I take it easier, I am better equipped to handle the things as they come. My rule this winter (we're spending a month in the US this Christmas) is to only schedule one event per day max. If I try to do more than that, I go nuts and the other things like culture shock seem that much harder. I'm praying for all of you women and your families who will be heading back for Winter furloughs!

  4. We deliberately try NOT to schedule any of our furloughs to correspond with the holidays, but I realize that not everyone can do that.

    And we've had more hot weather shock than cold weather shock. It really is hard when your body has adjusted to one climate, and you have to jump into another! Give yourself grace. Make sure you have appropriate clothing available. Ask for help with that, if you need it.

  5. I agree with Phyllis about trying not to schedule with holidays. We went once for Christmas and it was so stressful with all the Christmas events, church events, and general materialistic culture shock of the whole season. Our other trip back was during an "off time" for holidays and it was much more low-key.

  6. We went home once for Christmas and it was a very good experience for us. We contacted our churches and supporters ahead of time and explained that we would be home but would not be visiting because we were home for vacation, to rest and to spend time with our families. We let our families know the same thing. I'd also delivered 3.5 weeks earlier, so we were traveling with a newborn - and maybe people were more generous with us and gave us space because of that. We flew from Niger to Montreal and then took an overnight train home before we actually saw family - and that was wonderful because it gave us 2 days to ease back into the Western world before being overwhelmed by family.

    We did have "cold" shock 100-110'F (38-46ish C) to well below freezing. Our carry-ons contained lots of layers because once in Montreal, we had to leave the airport, hire taxis and get from there to the train station. I'd also had my mom send tuques and mittens for the kids in a padded envelope. My husband was great! He kept the mood light, like a big adventure and the kids were amazed by the snow. They loved watching the country side pass early the next morning as the sun came up and they could look at all the snow outside the windows.

    Any time someone complained as far as the cold or talked about the overwhelmingness, we tried to redirect thoughts to how lucky we were to spend this time with grandmas and grandpas, out of the dust and the heat to enjoy the cold and the snow and sledding and skiing and Christmas music and lights everywhere... As we made a conscious effort to list all of the wonderful things we didn't dwell so much on the parts that were uncomfortable.

    I agree with Karen as far as the family drama - when things would start, we'd just take the kids to bed, or otherwise make ourselves scarce so we didn't have to worry about it. Once we didn't allow ourselves to be drawn in, it seemed to dissipate.

    We've only done a holiday vacation like that once - but it was a wonderful experience for us. We usually only get one vacation/four year term. It is just too expensive for a family our size to try and leave Niamey every year - so it was totally wonderful for us to completely leave this continent and escape for 6 weeks.