Monday, June 17, 2013

All Mixed Up

Tomorrow we leave for our first furlough, home assignment, or whatever you want to call it. After 3 1/2 years, we are taking an 8 week furlough to connect with friends and family, to visit supporting churches, and to touch base with donors. I'm excited, I'm nervous, and I'm feeling some trepidation about the list of things that need to happen while we are there. Somehow we are supposed to rest in the middle of this, right? We are supposed to be getting a break from the crush of ministry and cross-cultural living, aren't we?

My biggest fear is that I will end up more exhausted than I started. I have concerns about how my kids will handle the whole thing, I am nervous about leaving ministry in the hands of others, and I dread the good-byes when we come back in August. I realize I'm not alone in the whole hatred of good-byes judging from recent posts.

All of that to say, I am feeling conflicted. I will miss El Salvador, but I'm thrilled to see family. We get to go to new places, and meet new people, but will we be too overwhelmed to enjoy it? I'm feeling mixed up about the whole thing, and it seems like every last aspect of this life makes me feel that way. We live in these paradoxes all of the time, don't we?

So...I'm in need of some advice here from all of you veteran missionary moms who have walked through this several times already. How do you make the most of your home assignment? How do you keep the kids somewhat stable through the whole thing? What are you going to do differently next time?

This is a season of travel in many parts of the world, so if you are furloughing, vacationing, hosting a million short-term missionaries, or just enjoying a break from the school schedule I hope that this is a great season for you and your family and I'd love to hear your advice!


  1. Hi Danielle! Enjoy your first furlough! Just two months after 3 1/2 years! That's a pretty long time to say on the field without going home!

    My only piece of advice would be to let go of expectations that it will be a rest time, UNLESS you have purposefully scheduled a week or more for your family to get away alone, hopefully close to the end of your time. My husband and I look at furlough as a "change," not as a "rest!" We find it easier (and less expensive) to schedule rest times while we're on the field. Vacation is more expensive in America, and furlough is too packed.

    Whether it's a change or a rest for you, I hope you enjoy.

  2. Thanks for your comment Olive! We have been home a few times before but for brief three week trips. This is our first "furlough" where we will be doing more extensive fundraising while we are here. We try not to disrupt the kids school schedules so we chose to do shorter trips about once a year, and then a shorter furlough every three years.

    We have scheduled a few dedicated vacation weeks, so hopefully those are restful! I like your idea of looking at is a "change" instead of a "rest" because there will still be work going on..just different work!

    Thanks for your advice!

  3. Olive's advice is really good. I'm afraid I just laughed a little when I read that part about rest. We usually go back for about a month. After our last time, one of our home churches recommended that we take a formal sabbatical in-country once we got back. That was perfect for us. I think we'll try to do that every time now. Our times in the states are just downright exhausting, but if we can look forward to a sabbatical afterwards each time, I think we'll handle the busyness better.

  4. We set aside or last few days in the US as our rest time before heading back to the UK. Our team leader encouraged it, and my husband planned it that way. It doesn't have to be a full-blown holiday. We just laid low in our church's missionary house. :-)