If you have not followed our training journey, you can catch up on Weeks 1-3 by clicking here.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind and it’s hard to believe we officially wrapped up our four-week training at Mission Training International (MTI) over two weeks ago! In those short four weeks, the bonds we created with a bunch of like-minded crazy people have left us forever changed. We didn’t believe them at first, but the MTI staff warned us this would happen. We now know what they were talking about.
Our last week was actually a difficult one as we were emotionally and mentally fatigued, eager to get home, and beginning to make preparations for jumping on the fast-moving train called life. However, we covered some major topics as it relates to what we will be expecting to face as we make the move and live cross-culturally.
Creating A Stress Management Plan
The Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale (https://www.stress.org/holmes-rahe-stress-inventory ) was created to aid people in identifying their level of stress over the last 12 months. A score over 300 is an indicator that a person has an 80% chance of being hospitalized within the next two years. Guess what first-year missionaries typically score… usually over 500 and sometimes as high as 1000!
While our scores were over 300, we were not close to the “normal” scores of first-time missionaries. However, we know we can expect our stress levels to increase over the next 12-18 months. Accepting this news is somewhat depressing, as we cannot assume “it won’t happen to us.” We’re not that naive. So, on to making a plan for dealing with stress before it wrecks us!
As we wait for our big move, we will begin to develop our stress management plan. In our training, we were given a list of nine items to include in our plan. For the sake of space, here is a list of the top five areas we are including in our plan:
1. Identify and avoid our negative coping skills
2. Create spiritual rhythms
3. Maintain a healthy physical body with sleep, diet, and exercise
4. Maintain healthy relationships
5. Creating rhythms of work and rest
Another topic we dove into was being aware of our posture (attitude, expectations, etc) as we enter and settle into our new country. Many missionaries arrive to their destination stressed, rushed, and feeling the expectation to perform on day one. Inevitably, these missionaries do not last on the field due to burnout and not taking necessary time to learn the local language and culture.
Instead, we as a family are going to make sure that we slowly transition, establish family rhythms & routines, settle into school, and take time to learn the language and culture of Spain. We know, based on research, that if we take the time to do these things, we will give ourselves the opportunity for a long and successful ministry in Europe and the Middle East.
Grief, Loss and “Good” Goodbyes
Let’s admit it, most of us hate saying goodbye, evidenced by awkward hugs, teary final words, and sometimes by emotionally and physically detaching ourselves for weeks (maybe months) before the final farewell. We have felt and experienced all of the above. While goodbyes are hard, we are SO THANKFUL that MTI has shown us how to say good goodbyes.
With the acronym RAFT, we can remember how to take the time to say goodbye to people, places, pets and possessions:
We are so thankful for the time we spent at MTI. On the last morning, it was difficult to drive off and to feel the physical separation from our trainers and staff, our new friends going to the field, and the facility we called home for a month. And already, we are practicing those good goodbyes.
Nate, Stacy, Daleska and Emily