This is another guest post from Alyssa of Momentary Missions. If anyone else is interested in contributing a guest post, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Our family is new to the field, and there was one thing that we did while leaving that made all the difference. We took a 3 day mini vacation just before catching our overseas flight.
I read this suggestion online from Laura Parker, a seasoned missionary mom. Laura was sharing the idea in the context of “things we wish we had done,” and the idea immediately resonated with me. When we left the US to come to Bulgaria, we were leaving the only home my kids had ever known. It was my husband’s first overseas move. It was my first time overseas in more than a decade. It was a LOT to process.
The long weekend away was just what we needed.
Here’s how it worked. Two weeks before our departure, we took a week off and went to visit family. We spent 3 days with each side of the family. Planning this months in advance allowed most of the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to plan time to come and visit. We were able to see everyone, make lots of fun memories, and say goodbye in person.
One week before our departure, we headed home for a week of wrapping up things at work, our final service at our sending church, and packing. This was our time to process and calm down from the emotion of saying goodbye to family. We ended the week with a much-anticipated cookout with many of our dearest friends.
Three days before our flight, we drove in a rental van to the city of our departure, where we stayed in a hotel, visited museums, swam in the hotel pool, ate at a few favorite restaurants, and cried more than a few tears. We de-stressed (again), and made it through the initial tidal wave of emotions. We gathered ourselves, reconnected with each other, and watched a few favorite TV shows for the last time.
The result of this time away was that we boarded the plane three days later with smiles, instead of tears. We were calm and well prepared, not stressed and anxious. Our children were anticipating the flight, not looking over their shoulders to wave goodbye to loved ones. We arrived ready to jump into the process of getting settled, feeling connected as a family, and with our kids “love tanks” full.
Next time we make a move like this, we will absolutely do the same thing again. It was worth every penny!
What strategies have you used for coping with goodbyes? Please share your wisdom or ask questions in the comments below. I’m always interested in advice from other moms who have been through the same experiences.