Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday Topic: Advice for new missionaries

From a reader: What would your biggest piece of advice be for a mom/family moving overseas for the first time? Is there anything that you wished you had been told before you first moved overseas?

(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. I forgot to add the link, and I can't right now, but in January Arabah Joy wrote a great post about this very topic. Look back in the archives here....

  2. For me, I wish that I had known that depression can come with culture shock and adjustment. Once the "honeymoon" phase wore off and I was still struggling with the language, I felt really depressed and like a failure for feeling that way. I learned about that in my pre-field training, but I think it's something that missionaries don't share with others very often. My advice would be that you might go through some times of feeling really down, and it's all a normal part of letting go of your "old life" and adjusting to the new culture. It's okay to feel that way, and it will pass!

  3. Enter the field with humility and be prepared to wait on the Lord... unless the Lord has called you to a specific ministry, gently arrive and see what the Lord is already up to in your location. Do not bulldoze in and start pushing against other missionaries. The Lord's work dovetails through multiple missionaries in one area, it doesn't crush on ministry at the expense of another. Humility.

  4. I love what Laura said, and I do wish I'd known what Danielle mentioned beforehand, too. I guess my advice would be to learn everything you can from your new neighbors. Engage with them as much as possible and resist the urge to mention how things were done in your home country. And don't compare yourself with other missionaries. It's easy to feel like they're doing everything right and speak better and are more effective and more.... whatever. Don't go there.

  5. I agree with Danielle. It can be depressing at times. (If you're in the Middle East, or in another HARD soil environment, depression can come and go over the YEARS! Laura's comment is great too. It's good to go in humbly, ready to learn until the Lord shows you what your ministry is.

    Think long term. Here in Turkey it was 3 years before I began to take more effective baby steps in ministry. It took that long to learn the culture and language. Also, try to learn local customs and live as they do, but also have in mind a few areas where you need to preserve your own culture in order to stay sane and on the field long-term. If I lived exactly as Turks do, I'd crash and burn in 6 months. For instance, our family does not usually leave the house at 10:00 PM to go on visits...

  6. all good advice so far and i'd echo what each one has said.

    two other things:
    1. as a mom, follow your kids' leads. you want to gently encourage and sometimes give little pushes to help them learn to navigate their new worlds, but you have to respect they way they are made, let them figure out how they want to get involved and then you follow their lead. don't force or push hard or... expect them to respond like you, like big brother or sister, like little brother or sister, like someone else's child...
    2. learn to cook from scratch BEFORE you go.
    3. hold your expectations loosely, with an open hand.