Stressed-Out Missionary

by Laura on March 4, 2012

Our first year overseas was by far the most stressful year of our entire lives.

We yelled more, and we got in more fights.

We irrationally loathed all-things-Asian, and the mere sound of the Asian language would make our skin crawl at times.

We cried after a trip to get groceries, and we cussed after an attempt to buy a toaster.

I threw a bike in the front yard and said awful things to my kids and blamed my husband for getting us into this nightmare in the first place.

It was not pretty. At all.

And I’d heard about the stages of culture shock {honeymoon, crisis, recovery, adjustment}, but sometimes it’s hard to recognize the hurricane for the debris and the wind that’s nailing you in the face. And, when you are still struggling with some of the same issues two years later, it’s hard not to think you must be the broken one.

But, I heard something last week that has been a bit of a lifeline for me. I heard about the research of Dr. Dean Ornish from a lady who’s husband is a counselor and has worked in member care {a.k.a. free missionary counseling} for about 15 years. She told me of a study which looked at stress-levels on individuals, and here’s the essence of what they found:

When stress levels reach above a 200 {on the Holmes-Rahe scale}, doctors will advise patients to make life changes– drink a glass of wine, exercise, sleep more, that kind of thing. The goal is to keep stress levels below 200, since anything over that can result in some incredibly negative effects, especially over the long term. In fact, 50% of the people scoring a 200 were hospitalized in the two years following the scoring with heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, or other severe illnesses. Apparently, the cumulative effect of stress on the body and mind can be an extremely damaging one.

Then, they used the same standards and scale to assess missionary stress levels. They found that the average missionary’s stress levels for the first year are typically around 800-900, and the sustained stress levels of a cross cultural worker stays around 600. {Check out the scale and rate yourself HERE.}

Sheesh. 600. And 200 might get you a heart attack or cancer.

So, yes, maybe there is a shred of evidence for our entire family needing to recover in an airconditioned room watching a movie at 2:30 simply because we braved the grocery center on a Sunday afternoon.

Maybe there is something behind the fact that we “accomplish” less and are tired more each day, something true about the reality that depression, anger and miscommunication are dangerously a hairline fracture away, all the time.

Perhaps there’s a good reason why we gain weight. And have shorter fuses. And oftentimes resent the very culture and people we are trying to love. Maybe there’s a reason we burn-out faster.

Apparently, missionaries can be a stressed-out bunch.

And while I don’t offer many solutions, I will just say this to my fellow expats: You’re not crazy if you freak out after a simple trip to get bananas. You’re not an awful missionary if you can’t cross off anything from your to-do list because just surviving a day literally sucks every ounce of effort from your soul. You’re not broken if you sometimes {or even, oftentimes} hate this thing you’ve given up so much to pursue.

But just because you want to go home, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.

Yet, make no mistake, long-term stress will produce fissures and cracks. And cracks, if left unattended, can end up shattering, spilling, and wrecking things. 

And, yes, maybe God doesn’t give us “more than we can handle.” And, yes, our weakness provides opportunities for his strength and love to show up, but, still–  don’t be stupid. Or go all-superhero.

Get a massage. Take a vacation. Go eat at a Western restauraunt, even if it is more expensive than the local food. Consider exercising a necessary to-do, and consider prayer an even more necessary one. Do whatever it takes to relieve some of the natural stress which comes from living in a different {and typically much more difficult} environment than the one you were born into.

Tightly -wound rubber bands typically end up snapping people, after all.

*************

Thoughts on missionary stress or stress in general {because heaven-knows, stress is no respecter of latitudes}? What do you do to relieve it?

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  • Brianandkammy

    Our family is moving to Chiang Mai this July and I would love to meet you!

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Yea! Call me or email me when you get here! Who are ya’ll with, what are you doing? lauraleighparker@gmail.com !

    • lauraparkerblog

      Yes!  Give us a call . . .. lauraleighparker@gmail.com ! What are ya’ll going to be doing?  Would love to meet!

  • lauraparkerblog

    AND > > > >  I am a dorkus and accidentally deleted one or two comments. I was trying to figure out this new commenting system.  Anyway, it wasn’t intentional and I can’t remember the email addresses– so sorry!  I totally didn’t mean that intentionally! One of you said something I really wanted to respond to about finding this in the “nick of time”-  bummer.  

  • bethany

    thanks for your raw honesty!  we are about 18 months into this life we call “crazy” in Central America.  i’m glad (in a pitiful kinda way) that i am not the only one who is completely maxed out after a simple trip to the grocery store.   may we all keep stretching and growing and rooting deep toward and into God so that we can keep on journeying!!!  thanks again laura!  bethany

  • Wcsmith

    Outstanding!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1132074025 Lisa Marcellus Riley

    Count us as strange cookies…our stress level here on the field in Central America is a whole lot less than it was in the States.  We love our new culture, and are working hard to adapt to it. We had to return to the States for a very quick trip (visa stamps, don’t you know?) and the whole time we were there, we kept saying, “I’m ready to be back in Central America.” Landing at the airport gave us the same feeling of “coming home” that we got when we came on a short term mission trip.   Thanks for the good words…it helps keep it all in perspective.

    • lauraparkerblog

      I think the states has a pace of life that is crazy busy and thus stressful. I guess the pace of life is slower in most foreign countries. Maybe the rub comes in trying to accomplish things. For us, it’s the driving for an hour on the hot car with the kids fighting in the back seat to find a store in crazy traffic that often sends us over the edge.
      So glad though you are really thriving overseas! Awesome.

  • Tamara Buttery

    Love, love, love this post!  Why?  1.  YOU are now giving the same sage advice so many were giving to you a year or so ago!  You got it, girl!  2.  You are allowing the Lord to soften you to His plan and harden you to some of the world-crap!  3.  You sound SO hopeful and resourceful and grounded and so very “I know this monster and I know how to handle it!”
    Praise God!!!
    And yes, I believe the research about stress’ negative affects on our bodies as well as our minds.  Hmmm, I was diagnosed w/ breast cancer after two major life events/tragedies.  Coincidence?  Not really!
    Keep up your good care and let us care for you, too!  And thanks for spreading this message to someone else who needs to hear – know – do this!
    Hugs from the Dominican Republic!

  • Risa

    Wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this. My family is preparing move to Haiti this summer/fall. But I did read it and with an open mind along with the constant practice lately of taking it all to my heavenly Father first. Eagerly we wait to set a date to actually depart to our new home in port au prince, but in the meantime, my husband and I are meeting with two older couples. The purpose is to flush out anything that needs dealing with now so we can leave here  more strengthened and united in our marriage. I know the enemy will want to target us right there. I totally get the yelling and cursing, at the toaster or husband, just want to be convicted more and do it less…  I also ponder my stress with three little ones of my own and how that will balance with the anticipation of parenting orphans, too. I’m focused much more than ever of living by faith, being super thankful to have the privileged of parenting. They are All His and I will trust for their well-being… so many others are choosing to stress for me:) In a good way I suppose.  I’m also mulling over how important it is to take care of myself, to be ok with a random splurge for the sake of my sanity, careful not to have a poverty spirit mindset. He is my great God who will take care me well. I’m sure he’s ok with the occasional American meal that costs more than the standard for the culture.
    Anyway, I’ve babbled, but I loved your perspective and look forward to reading more. Risa http://www.sraks.wordpress.com

  • http://highcountries.wordpress.com/ jamie

    wow! a friend sent me this, i’ve been experiencing all this recently and just wrote about it on my blog..

    http://highcountries.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/my-practices-of-mothering-breakdowns-healing-and-the-spirit/

    we live in japan, and now that we’ve been here four years, its much harder for me to remember what it was like BEFORE, and so i’m not as easy on myself.  we’ve been making some major changes around here in order to better emotionally cope! how is it you can feel so very tired from simply EXISTING? i’m so happy to find your blog and will continue to come and read!!

    • lauraparkerblog

      Jamie, Thanks for stopping in– glad we found each other! I agree that I totally continue to underestimate just the effort it takes to just LIVE– get food, pay the electric bill, get gas, figure out car insurance. Those task continually seem so. huge. and exhausting.

      Can’t wait to check out your blog and your life — thanks for leaving the link for us!

      Love from here,
      L

  • Eabernhardt

    That was wonderful.  My husband I were missionaries in China for two years, and I can completely relate.  This does make me feel a lot more normal I guess.  Some friends of our from China went back again this year, and this article was posted on their page by another member of our missionary group.  I saw the posting, read the first three lines, and had to click the link.  Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

    • lauraparkerblog

      Absolutely– China is NO JOKE. Kudos to you and your friends! :)

  • Chelsea

    Your story reminds me of the time my mom almost crushed our last food, an egg, over a beggar’s head in the streets of Colombia. She realized at that moment she needed to take a break. 
    I loved your story because it is so true! As a missionary kid who grew up in Colombia and Ecuador, I felt that way in the USA in college and also when I was a missionary in Thailand, just as you all.
    It is funny how some of what you talked about doesn’t get mentioned much anymore. And still after all these years that my parents have been missionaries they still get exhausted and burned out and stressed out. The journey is hard, but worth all the stories you have to tell others later one as a comforting tool. God bless you and eat some somtam for me (if you like it)!

    • lauraparkerblog

      Oh my gracious– that is hillarious!! I would love to hear more of that one! What a great picture of our HUMANITY and the STRESS of living in another culture– it makes good people do strange things. Absolutely.

      Thanks for your kind words!

  • Camille

    Sing It!!!  We are “finishers” (empty-nesters who just put our last born into university in the states) and live and work in Nairobi, Kenya, lo these past six years (three with our daughter here).  I hear and feel and respond keenly to every word you are saying.  We are in the middle of our first real move (our lease was terminated while we were in the states for the birth of our first grand child).  It is about to crush us.  We looked at 30 properties in 3 weeks, all without the aid of an agent (we could find out more from local motorcycle drivers or guards than agents).  Prices here, on everything!!, have sky rocketed.  Our rent had gone up 70% in 5 years.  We just had a notice for the rental of our post office box…it is going up 400%…you read that right 400%!!  WHO gets a 400% raise to cover stuff like that??  Any way, thanks for your words, allowing us to be okay in our suffering…and be okay in our getting very little done (or so it feels).,.be okay getting a pedicure when we feel life is pressing in too hard.  For me, I rely on my close and sweet girl friends…and I am blessed with a husband whose love language is acts of service, so I always feel spoiled (even after 36 years).  Good on ya!!

    • lauraparkerblog

      Camille– love your honesty and hearing about your journey! And, girl, just enjoy those pedicures!

      and, sheesh, 400%?!?! What? talk about inflation . . .

  • Christopher LaBoube

    Dear Laura, Blessed Easter greetings to you in the Name of Jesus from northern Ghana, West Africa!  I am a missionary with Lutheran Bible Translators.  I thank God for Him leading me to find your article on the web.  And, then just the other day, some friends who are missionaries in Taiwan, sent me a link to your website.  I have been in West Africa for 10 months (and will be here for another 20 months at least), and Ghana has by far been my biggest stressful challenge of living overseas.  Several years ago, I was a missionary in Japan for 2 1/2 years, and sure that was stressful, too, but differently.  My last year of American high school, I was an exchange student for one year to Germany which was also very challenging for an 17-year-old, but it was a great experience!  I greatly appreciated reading this article and your article “dangerously a hairline fracture away” as I find myself thinking some similar thoughts, and reflecting on how I’ve reacted at times as I continue to get adjusted to life in West Africa.  Oh my!    Thank you very much for sharing this.  And seeing from the comments, it seems a lot of other missionaries have greatly appreciated your words of encourgaement!  God bless you and your family.
    In His grip, Christopher

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Thanks, Christopher, for your words of encouragement. So glad some of my “brutal honesty” was an encouragement to your work in Africa– sounds pretty intense!

      Keep up the good work,

      Laura

    • lauraparkerblog

      Christopher, Hang in there! Life is dangerously-hairline-fracturish often, isn’t it? Reckon that’s why we need to press in and trust, even more. Keep your head up– Africa sounds INTENSE.

  • Drlectr

    Living off others seems like a good gig to me.

  • BlessingAfrica

     A sweet friend sent me this link this morning… it made her think of me. Ha! Me? Stressed out? Surely not!
    Anyway, I am so glad she connected us and I have had the most delightful {children’s nap} time reading your blog. You are a real encouragement … Keep on!

    • lauraparkerblog

      Thanks to you and thanks to your friend for connecting us– no shame in the stress, I promise!! We’ve allll been there. Hang in there. Love and prayers to Africa from Thailand,
      Laura

  • Karen Phillips

    We’ve been in Eastern Europe for about 6 years.  I totally get this,  I know that I battle stress and anxiety both here and in the US.  It seems worse when we are here, because there are expectations of the culture, expectations of the team you serve with, expectations of your supporters, and at some times we’re just trying to survive.  It reminds me, of when we first got here, we had family members who asked us if we were fluent yet.  We had been here three months, were just learning our way around, talking like babies, figuring out how we could minister here, had not had a language lesson yet as it summer, and we were already expected to be fluent?  It made us chuckle, and also think…they have no idea!

  • KarePh

    We’ve been in Eastern Europe for about 6 years.  I totally get this,  I know that I battle stress and anxiety both here and in the US.  It seems worse when we are here, because there are expectations of the culture, expectations of the team you serve with, expectations of your supporters, and at some times we’re just trying to survive.  It reminds me, of when we first got here, we had family members who asked us if we were fluent yet.  We had been here three months, were just learning our way around, talking like babies, figuring out how we could minister here, had not had a language lesson yet as it was summer, and we were already expected to be fluent?  It made us chuckle, and also think…they have no idea!

    • lauraparkerblog

      Yes, K, I totally get the pressure to “perform” in ministry and get it together fast– especially under the expectations from others who maybe don’t’ understand. Wow, 6 YEARS in E. Europe– way to go for hanging in there and surviving that!

      Thanks for commenting, too- loved hearing your perspective.

  • KarePh

    laura – are you able to delete my double comment?  I really don’t want my full name out there – thanks!

  • http://carriethinkstoomuch.blogspot.com/ Carrie

    I stumbled upon this while googling “Missionary Burnout”. It adequately describes our current situation and the study you cited is quite interesting. Thanks for that!

    I decided this morning that missionaries need a hotline to call and vent frustrations so they don’t have to vent them all to each other—or decide to bottle it up inside only to have it explode out later. This hotline could be called a Missionary Ventline. Just a place where a missionary can call and yell or cry or drone on and on about absolutely nothing—with no need of advice in return. Just a listener. MKs could do well to have something like this as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rnjmcduffie RJ McDuffie

    Thank you so much for sharing this story! After 2 years of being on the mission field (based in South Africa but ministering throughout Africa) there have definitely been days where I have felt like I am going crazy because of the extreme emotional roller coaster. I’ve lost count of the mornings where I just want to stay in bed, go back to sleep and pray that when I wake up somehow our current stress elevator will have disappeared. Transparency is expected from missionaries and often we are left in much more vulnerable states than our family, friends and even those we minister to can understand. At times it feels like a very lonely journey. So, I’m so thankful to have found this story and know it’s not so lonely!

  • Adeline Oh

    I thought I was the worst ever missionary because I wanted to yell at everyone and throw things around after the first year and couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t blend in and be good like all the other missionaries I know…and all the guilt, guilt, guilt…..whichever way I turned. So, thank you for this blog entry.

  • ruth

    thanks for this! ha! no wonder sometimes we have thought we are going insane!

  • http://twitter.com/michaelrank5mc Michael Rank

    I appreciate what you have done here, Laura, to address the dire consequences that result from people overcommitting themselves while overseas and working themselves and their families to death due to a misplaced sense of spiritual duty.

    Unfortunately, I have seen the opposite reaction far too many times where people will use their overseas status as an excuse to essentially work 10 hours a week and take 3-4 days off because their kids are sick or their spouse had a bad day — something that would quickly lead to termination if it were done in any other job back in the US.

    I agree that families need to take it easy if they have been thrown into terrible culture shock, and sometimes breaks like these are necessary. But I would just add for the sake of the discussion that if a person’s permanent overseas condition is that they can only work part or a quarter time due to culture shock then they should consider another job.
    I realize you didn’t argue this Laura; I’m merely addressing what is unfortunately an all-too-common phenomenon.

    • jwarden

      Michael, I can’t deny that their aren’t missionaries out there that do abuse the system. However, I think there is often a lack of understanding of what it’s really like, dealing with culture shock, stress, and just how other countries work. Many can just not comprehend how very different everyday life can be from what everyday life in the US looks like. This lack of understanding can lead to unrealistic expectations and is part of the very stress that missionaries talk about.

      We spent three years in a Latino country which was extremely laid back. The entire town would close down for lunch for two hours in the middle of the day. We couldn’t even buy a loaf of bread if we wanted. As productive as we want to be, missionaries are limited by the cultural structure that surround them. Everything is done by their rules, their hours, and their ways and thus the friction because it most often is SO different that the rules, hours and ways of the US. Just to use your example of taking 3-4 days off because you have a sick kid. I can see how someone from the US would look at that as say, that’s pretty ridiculous. However, most people that live cross culturally would look at that and say it very well might be necessary. In our country, if your child gets sick it’s can be pretty scary. Because chances are it’s not just an ear infection or a cold, but it might be yellow fever, dengue fever, typhoid or malaria (and lots of other scary things that folks in the US never have to deal with). So you want to take them in to see a doctor. There is no such thing as making a doctors appointment in our country. You just show up as early in the day as you can to get a good spot in line. And then whenever the doctor gets there they get there. This may take half a day. Then likely your child will need to have labs done, so you go to the other side of town to get that done. Same thing there…waiting in line until they get to you for 2 hours. The next day you have to go back to the lab to get the results…another 2 hour wait because there isn’t a separate line for people who are just there to pick up their results. (Which is SO ridiculous and to this day the thought of that makes me agitated.) Next you take the results back to your doctor and I’m sure you are guessing what comes next. More waiting in line for the doctor to show up. (Oh and sometimes you wait in line for two hours before someone announces that the doctor isn’t coming at all…he is on vacation the week. So you go home and start it all over the next day hoping they will be there.) Then you go to another part of town to the pharmacy to pick up whatever medications your child might need and wait in that line for however long it takes. (And you hope that the pharmacy has what you need…often we found ourselves going to 3-4 different pharmacies before finding our needed medication in stock.) So if your wife stays at home with the baby and 3 year old, you can see why it might be necessary for the Dad to have to take a few days “off” just to get your child the medical attention that they need.

  • Tanya

    You’re so right about the to-do list. It took me a few years in China to learn that my to-do list of errands should be ONE errand long, with a list of optional errands should I happen to have the time and energy to do anything else after that. Especially if that one required dealing with anyone in a post office, bank, or police station.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com/ Laura Parker

      Yes! I agree . . . it’s hard to retrain your brain in that, isn’t it?

      • Tanya

        Definitely! And then there’s the guilt of feeling you must be some kind of wuss who can’t hack it, can’t even do something “simple” like run errands… reshaping expectations is essential for sanity, but it’s hard! Even after 9 years I still struggle with it sometimes, and I’ve walked alongside many friends wrestling with the same thing.

  • julie clark

    Thank you for sharing so honestly your struggles. I love your your advise: “Don’t be stupid. Or go all super-hero.” I spent a good part of 30 years of my life in Asia, when we weren’t talking about how hard it was at times. Just bucking up and getting on with things, being the super-heros, even when we were falling apart. I’m talking about it now though! I have a piece on my blog called Recovery you might want to look at. http://backfromtheborderlands.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/recovering/

  • Steve & Leslie Weightman

    Just in case this may help someone out there who is in the burnout stage, there is a great counseling center in Fresno, CA for people in ministry called Link Care. Not free but well worth the investment.

  • Guest

    Another post that relates to this and I found quite helpful.
    http://larrymccrary.com/2013/03/04/adjusting-to-your-new-home/#comments

  • Shawn

    I am dying over here (laughing, that is) …
    We are missionaries in
    the Dominican Republic and your post has hit home in SO many ways. I
    shared it today on FB so that others can get a glimpse of what we go
    through. And selfishly – to prove to them I am not crazy!! hahaha
    Enjoyed
    your blog very much so. Sorry it came at such a high cost, but I am
    sure in the end you would agree that it was ALL worth it!
    Blessings to you and your family for all you do in the name of our Savior!

    Shawn Fernandez
    threesixteen.org

  • http://www.facebook.com/moralesmyranda Myranda Morales

    WOW! It is like you have been a fly on the wall of our house! We are missionaries in Africa for 6 years. At one point I thought that we were heading for divorce court. It was terrible!!! It is so true what you say, simple everyday tasks can literally suck the life out of your being. BUT the trick is to accept that and know that it is ok. Thank you for your candor and transparency! Myranda Morales

  • Joseph Kim

    Awesome post! I’ll forward this to our team. Perhaps much of the stress for less experienced missionaries is directly related to learning the language, though of course later on even with fluency there are many other issues that tend to creep up. Just as new parents have different stresses with young children, older parents of teenagers/college students have different kinds of stress. I’ve noticed more experienced missionaries also deal with different stress vs. those who have been on the field 4 years or less. In both cases, I think of 1 Cor 9:19, and how hard it is to become a servant – not only spiritually but also physically in learning this new language and culture. For me, the single biggest thing that helped my adjustment after getting more comfortable with the language was making friends! In particular, with those who spoke no English. It made the language real. I wasn’t simply here to live or to shop at a grocery store wanted to learn this language to befriend my neighbor, etc. (Still not easy of course.)

    Thank you for your honesty and the fact you’re so open to many who read your blog. Keep on keepin on…

    - Joe
    http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/josephkimX

  • Carie Means

    Hey! Mexico here (3 1/2 years). Because of visas, my family and I will be making a 2 day trip up to the U.S. starting in less than 24 hours. It is uncertain exactly when we will be able to return home (Mexico). I haven’t packed anything and my husband, who has thrown up three times tonight, is finally sleeping. Did I mention we have unexpected guest this week, sleeping in my house while I pack (or don’t pack) for this undetermined amount of time. And did I mentioned I sent to kids out with money to buy pizza (we can do that in this village). Which brings me to reading your blog, instead of packing or sleeping. Anyway, I scored over 500 on the stress test thingy. 500! Yikes! Which is why, my husband and I are getting on a cruise ship in 12 days! And also why we put $1500 aside for a family vacation next year. And I’m yelling it right here, because I’m a missionary, so I’m sure not posting it anywhere else. Hugs!

  • 2theNations

    John 15… Rest in Him. Abide in Him. Don’t strive. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength, and His shalom peace that surpasses all understanding overwhelm you.

  • Willardsdaughter

    I don’t know where that “God won’t give you more than you can handle” stuff comes from. It’s not part of any verse that I know. I think Job got more than he could handle. What does it mean? That God doesn’t kill you? What about the missionaries who were burned up in their car in India?

    For me a better mantra is, God is good, and my name is written in heaven. It helps me to remember that God will turn all things to good in the life of a believer. I want my life to bring glory to God and glory comes to Him in all kinds of ways that aren’t included in “more than you can handle.”

    I think Jim Elliot and friends had more than they could handle. But look at the testimony!! The glory to God!!! And all the while Jim and friends are being enthralled by the face of Jesus himself!!

    So, I would flush the “more than you can handle” thing and comfort yourself that someday, either later in this life or blessedly in the next, you’ll understand more about what you are going through right now – you might not understand everything, but you’ll understand more.

  • Sarah

    This is exactly how I feel about my marriage. And I’m not posting this to be snide or sarcastic. But it is EXACTLY how I’m feeling, with some of the same language you use and feelings you experience. I’ve started getting less “accomplished” and more time recovering so I can “work again” tomorrow. Yikes. :(

  • Jan Griffin

    Our family is 2nd career missionaries. We left our “American dream” life in 2005 to pursue missions. We have lived overseas and have been in the US for the last 5 years to get our 3 kids through high school in America and off to college. My husband travels all around the world and I stay home. It was frustrating to be left here sometimes, but I know this is a season and God has ministry for me here. I thank God each day that so many things are simpler here. I totally understand the frustrations. I have MS and also understand what stress can do to our bodies.
    I do not drive right now and am home a lot. I would be happy to serve as your “Vent” line anytime. I am near my computer often, on Skype and Facebook. This offer is for anyone overseas who has commented here. I love to listen and encourage people! :)
    Blessings, Jan Griffin

    • Sue Minns

      How lovely of you Jan .I just joined the discussion today, and am so glad to have had a Missionary friend post this from Laura, so I could be a part of this.I need this and may just take you up on this sometime…My husband and I currently spend part time six months at a time on out Island of the Bahamas.Take a lot of static and bad jokes for that too. Such as… Tough job but somebody has to do it etc..if they only knew..Then we travel to the states where we have a tiny apt.Stay long enough to barely regroup and go to eastern Europe to Minister mainly to the Roma.Even in the States we live in a dangerous area, low rent , drug infested , Appalachian area,,rest is something we are trying to learn how to do without feeling guilty..I had a hip replacement last summer stateside due to a motor scooter accident here on the Island that was not attended to properly .Even though I was airlifted to a bigger island.. no real care on the island here…minor things only.I did not get good care. So A year later I needed major surgery.Thankfully I am recovering and feel better than I have in years..Oops I am already letting off some steam I think.Nuff said..Thanks for the offer…

  • Marcy

    Just want you to know that many missionaries are reading from Honduras and we find your articles very helpful and encouraging :) (www.honduranfellowship.org). I also use the stress test in a Transition/Change class for new missionaries.

  • Tara Porter-Livesay

    Holy Cow – those stress level numbers are uber shocking — but also NOT very shocking. I’m gonna lie down now. :)

  • Americanul65

    20 years a missionary, 18 in Romania – my goodness, do I relate to this article. A pastor of a large church (around 1,000/week) came to visit me and told me that my normal day was beyond his thresh hold and that he could not handle the stress. It took me 6 months to calm down after I came. I used to watch the vapor trails of airplanes and wonder where they were going and why I was not on one of them. After 6 months I asked God to give me the desires of my heart since I obviously did not know what to desire. After a few weeks I stopped watching the airplanes fly over and just went with it. Today, it is my home – the USA is where the poor stressed out people live….

  • http://blessedwithaburden.wordpress.com Megan Boudreaux

    SO true. And any involvement in countering human/child trafficking can surely make you want to bang your head against a wall and scream “WHY GOD?” like a crazy person. Thanks for being honest and saying what so many people feel but are typically afraid to say…and high-five to getting massages and chilling every once in a while :)

  • Craig

    Wow, thanks for the post. I reading this as a student at a missionary training school with a young child and stress already piling on! “You’re not crazy if you freak out after a simple trip to get bananas” That might be the most helpful part of the post! Thanks again.

  • Melissa Diane George

    This is one of the most wonderful and refreshing things I’ve ever read…Thank you. <3

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