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Returning Home

 
In this Section:
Re-Entry
Team Debriefing
Sharing Your Mission With Your Congregation.


Re-Entry

Everyone going on mission has made subtle but significant shifts in their worldview. Reverse culture shock is seeing your own familiar world through these new eyes.

Encountering culture closer and closer to our own at the end of a mission often brings the need for team members to affirm who they are in various ways -- by spending money and/or wanting to eat at expensive restaurants. Perhaps this is an attempt to reestablish victory over the extreme poverty encountered. Sometimes the opposite reaction happens: there is an aversion to what now seems like excessive spending.

Some of the same personality changes that sometimes occur with initial culture shock -- crying, sleeplessness, depression -- can surface as persons struggle with the meaning of the encounters they have had. Often it is shrugged off as "jet lag."

Again, talking about problems you may encounter is effective. It is not unusual for a team member to feel that life at home seems to have a superficial quality to it. It is hard to see family and friends less committed to the new priorities and excitement that you lived as a team member.

You will find a balance between your new worldview and the familiar world of home. You should expect changes, however. It has been said: "If your short-term mission doesn't affect your Bible study, your finances and your social life, you may need to look at your slides again."

You owe it to yourself to make participation in the team debriefing sessions a HIGH priority. These sessions are specifically designed to help you process your experience and think through its impact on your future.

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Team Debriefing

Debriefing is a time
  of reflection on what has happened.
  of acknowledging what God is doing/has done.
  of anticipating the difference this experience may make in our lives.

Coming back into your familiar world is as important as entering another culture. The goal is to provide the opportunity to reflect and share what has happened. The following questions are helpful when used in a team meeting, or for personal reflection on the airline.

LOOKING BACK AND LOOKING INWARD
 
1. Surprise is a neutral word, neither positive or negative. Describe one surprise about this culture that you encountered on this trip.

2. Describe one surprise that you found out about yourself.

3. Complete this sentence: "One of the biggest gifts I am returning home with is .

4. What was a personal highlight?

5. At what point did you feel the lowest?

6. What were the sacrifices you had to make to accomplish this mission (i.e. "count the cost")?

7. Recount a time of ministry that was stretching for you.

8. The most significant lesson God taught me was .

9. How did you see God using you?

10. What would you have done differently?

11. It is very affirming to have the team share the gifts they saw or experienced from each team member. Take turns. Take notes.
 
LOOKING FORWARD

1. Discuss the potential effects of jet lag, if appropriate.

2. Reflect on how you "process" experiences. By telling and retelling the story? By writing? By playing "'re-runs" of the mental videos?

3. Each time you tell your story, it is re-shaped and distilled even further. There is value in rereading your journal and continuing to write down your reflections. God may use these experiences to teach you for quite some time. Continue to remain teachable.

4. How can you communicate this experience with your spouse? With your support group? With your church community? With your co-workers?

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Sharing your Mission with your Congregation

by Edwina Thomas, National Director, SOMA USA


In the final hour before the big Pan Am Clipper touched down on "home turf"' I found a seat next to a fellow team member returning from India. We shared the exhilaration of having seen:

God's mighty Holy Spirit poured out.

His graciousness in seeing us through a physically difficult mission The anticipation of helping others understand what our trip had been about.

As I shared insights that I have gleaned from many talks and slide shows, I was struck by my friend's comment: "I wish I had had this information earlier. I would have used my camera with different ideas in mind."

Some ideas for preparing a slide show for your congregation:

1. Take more film than you think you will need. You can always bring extra film home for the next holiday or the kid's soccer game, but you will never again duplicate the people and experience of this mission.

2. A map is a wonderful beginning for a mission presentation.

3. Bring souvenirs and gifts given you to show and talk about.

4. Aim for 50-60 slides per show. Short is best!

5. Be a harsh critic of your photography. If a slide is too dark, too light, fuzzy -- leave it out! No exceptions!

6. Posed group photos are boring. The only reason for showing one is to establish the relative size of a group.

7. Brainstorm your trip, choosing a few topics you want to cover. I once used four slides to tell of the adventure of being inadvertently caught in a student riot.

8. Resist the temptation to plan your slide show according to the team itinerary. The four slides used to tell the story of student riots in Ecuador were taken on two different occasions

9.Choose slides to tell your story; not vice-versa.

10. An important part of the story you will want to tell is, "What we did...". It takes some effort to document praying for people; praying for the next speaker; or team training times. Fun and fellowship are easy!

11. Choose with care your opening slide. For example: A modern office building next to an ancient cathedral sets the tone of a show about Ecuador.

12. Carefully select your closing slide. The faces of three young men in Kenya prompted me to say, "Peter, Simon and Robert represent the future of the church in Kenya. Will you join me in praying for their ministry and the continued work of the Holy Spirit in this Diocese?"

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