Thursday, March 17, 2016

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig (an FAQ)

As the nursery rhyme says, soon it's time for me to jiggity-jig on homeward! As I hop around the globe, I know it can be confusing to keep track of where I'm going and what I'm doing next--and now it's time for "home assignment!" Here are a few common questions that have recently come up—please feel free to ask more in the comment section.

Ukarumpa (my PNG home), looking down from a mountain (photo by Carl Campbell)
What is "home assignment?" Home assignment is the term that global workers use to refer to the time when they leave their host country ("the field") and return to their home country for a temporary period of time before going back to their host country. When we're among ourselves, we often call it "furlough" but that term can be misleading because businesses and the military use it with a very different meaning.

How long will you be here? I’ll be in the US for about six months; I am leaving at the beginning of May and plan on returning to Papua New Guinea (PNG) at the end of 2016.

What will you be doing in the US? In addition to spending time with family, reconnecting with all of you, re-evaluating my budget, visiting doctors, attempting to rest and recover from a difficult term, and doing necessary paperwork for life overseas, I will continue serving with Wycliffe in the work of Bible translation. This will include speaking and travelling on Wycliffe’s behalf, meeting with as churches and groups to share what God’s been doing, receiving further training, writing articles, and much more! It’s my privilege and honor to continue in ministry—to the people groups of the US!

Isn’t this your vacation? Actually, no. For most global workers, “home assignment” is just as busy as our work in PNG (and for some people, even more so!), and only a portion of that time (just like in a “regular” job) is allotted for vacation. In fact, going from a quiet, slow country with limited choices and minimal sensory input to a high speed, highly populated, high choice, and high sensory input location can be extremely stressful. In addition, in order to reconnect with all of you, I will be travelling quite extensively, as well as trying to accomplish all the tasks that can only happen in the US (such as certain health services or things that require better Internet, etc.).

Will you come to visit my area or church?
I would love to! I plan on spending most of my time in the Midwest, but I will likely be visiting a few other states. Contact me to get your church or group on my schedule.

Do you still need our support of prayer and finances? Most definitely! The transition back to US culture is often a challenge for overseas workers, and a common occasion of spiritual warfare; your prayers are extremely valuable! In addition, your faithful giving remains my primary means of financial support as I deal with the higher expenses of life in the US (everything from doctor visits to vehicle needs to housing expenses).

How else can I help you when you're on home assignment? Last time I returned to the US, I wrote a blog called "Greetings from Mars--or what to do when your missionary returns home." I highly recommend you take a look! Also, occasionally I will have specific needs crop up (for example, I know I'll need to borrow a bicycle at one point), and I'd love your help--keep your eye on my blog, newsletter, and prayer updates for opportunities!

How's your health doing? My health continues to improve slowly (chronic diseases don't tend to have instant recoveries), and it's particularly challenging for me right now when my work and life responsibilities have increased drastically as I get ready to cross oceans. But, I am so grateful for those small victories! Thanks for asking!

Are you excited to come back to the US? Yes, and no. I'm absolutely thrilled to see family and friends and my own culture and various food and activities that we don't have here. But, home assignment can be quite a challenging time; after all, I've spent the majority of the last five years living in a third-world country living a very different life, and transitions are always hard. Keep an eye on my blog and other publications as I process through the transition--I'll do my best to try to take you with me!

What other questions do you have?