Reflection From Colorado

October 1, 2008

As our training continues here in Littleton Colorado, I wanted to pass on one of the topics I thought really describes the experience we have been in and will continue to walk through.  If you’ve ever wondered, “What is it like for a missionary to leave?”  I think these five areas sum up our current experience pretty well: 


Kate listening to one of our instructors.

Phase I – Involvement:

At this point you are still known by people around you.  You are comfortable and you know where things are and belong.  

Phase II – Leaving:

Moving out of regular life, the phase of Leaving includes eerythign that happens around and to you in preparation of leaving.  This that period when you begin to unplug, when life “at home” starts going on without you.  As you continue to prepare to leave, your experience of people, events and surroundings changes as recognition of “lasts” (“This may be my last Christmas in Vancouver,” “This may be the last time I see ______”, etc.) begins to color your thinking, further heightening your awareness that you no longer fit your surroundings.   Slowly (or not so slowly), you and those around you seem to unplug, in preparation for the coming goodbye.  (This phase is probably where we are right now)

Phase III – Chaos:

Split down the middle, this phase lives up to its name in different ways on both sides of the ocean.  Before you leave Chaos sets in as the people around you realize that you’re leaving and suddenly find the drive to say goodbye, have lunch, dinner, brunch, afternoon tea, elvensies, and any other thing they can think of to try to get some together time before you say the big Goodbye.  At the same time life stateside becomes even more hectic as those final holdouts of familiarity are forced to die in the mad dash towards the airplane.  

On the other side of the ocean the Chaos continues as you remain totally unsettled, having forfeited all of the customary familiarities of your former home.  Not only do you not know how to get around in your new surroundings (culturally and directionally), but you are also just beginning the process of discovering where your own things are.  What’s more, you find yourself to be totally unknown in your new environment.  They don’t know you, your giftings, your personality, your tastes, your passions–nothing.  

Phase IV – Entering:

This is when you begin to be known again.  The people you live with are slowly discovering–with a little unabashed self-promotion–who you are and what you can do.  Concurrently you are being relationally investigated (just as you too are investigating people) for their potential as friends, partners and contacts. Dive too deep, with too little discernment and you’ve just buried yourself in over-commitment.  To be too conservative in this period feels like being damned to continue in the uncertainty of Phase III.  

Phase V – Reengagement:

Finally, as your transition to your new culture begins to normalize (a process which will probably take no less than a year), you have come to be known and to know.  You feel settled again.  You know where things are, and though you will always continue learning about the culture and language, you at least know some of how to get around in this once foreign place.  

What a journey, huh?  Nonetheless it is the journey we find ourselves on with God.  

I think this all speaks pretty well for itself, but the one thing I would like to highlight, is the importance of knowing and being known.  Over and over it comes up.  Where do things belong?  Where do I belong?  Who knows that’s where I belong?  Amazing how important it is to know and be known–even when it means knowing where to buy bread or where to put my keys.  What I’m wondering is, What does that desire say about us as people?



One Response to “Reflection From Colorado”

  1. Mom Says:

    The words you wrote have surfaced some pretty profound questions, some I am not sure you are even aware you are addressing. In a sense, your departure is a slow death for me, one whose pain I would love to find shelter from. Ofcourse, knowing that being in the center of God’s will for you brings me a sort of joy, but loss is also a very real part of my experience. Avoiding the reality of your departure is may also be an atempt to avoid the pain of loss. I hope it doesn’t eclipse the joy of sending you out and the promotion of God’s best for you.
    I was reading in Romans this morning something I hadn’t ever experienced before-the completion of His best for us when we celebrate both His gift to us and His call on our lives.
    His Gift and His Call-can’t focus on one without the other and have as complete an experience of His Life as we are designed to experience.

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