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In early July, we arrived at Missionary Acres. Though we aren’t yet completely finished with deputation, we are far enough along in the process that we can finish the journey from here. Being in Missouri opens the door to contact many new churches, since there are so many more down here compared to Washington State.
But, moving isn’t easy, even when it’s to a place you’ve longed to be at for a while. The past month has been full of transitions, adjustments, and learning. To share part of this move with you, here are six things we’ve learned about adjusting to life on the mission field.
1. You Need to Give Yourself (and Your Kids) Grace
Moving is hard. And as humans, we aren’t always great about talking about our feelings and emotions. The kids especially have a hard time trying to put into words what they’re feeling. So sometimes, those big emotions come out in the form of tantrums and tears.
Give your kids grace during this time. Be patient with them and have plenty of conversations about the newness of it all.
There may even be times when you feel frustrated with the process or lonely or something else. Give yourself grace during this time as well. You just had a major life change. And even though you’re excited to be on the field, it’s so different than what you were used to.
So watch your expectations and give yourself plenty of time to adjust to it all. Don’t try to power through everything in one or two weeks and expect yourself to be settled and feeling at home.
It takes time. And that’s okay. Lean on God through this process and He will help you.
2. There Will Be Grief About the Life Left Behind
Even when you’re excited about the move, and getting onto the field God has in store for you, there will be grief about the change. In our case, we went from living across the street from one set of grandparents to living over 2,000 miles away from them.
That in and of itself is a big transition. The kids were used to visiting Grandma and Grandpa frequently. And though it helps, FaceTime just isn’t the same.
When you move, you’re leaving behind family, friends, a church family, and more. You’re leaving the knowledge of where all the best grocery stores are and which doctor you need to call for each member of the family.
All of that normal is gone. And even though it’s good to be on the field, there’s some sadness. So don’t try to overlook that. Give yourself some time to acknowledge the grief and work through it. You aren’t less of a person or a bad missionary because you miss something about the way life used to be.
3. You’ve Got to Be Patient with the Process
Things work a little differently here in Missouri. Instead of just heading to the county auditor to get license and registration for our vehicles, we had to get them inspected first. And get a letter from the courthouse saying we didn’t owe any tax money. And those things all took time.
Much time has been spent this first month on the field taking care of the little things. We’ve been getting driver’s licenses transferred over and making sure our vehicles were all legally taken care of before our 30 day limit was up.
We’ve also been applying for insurance (keep praying that the kids’ plan would be approved please, we’re waiting on paperwork…), sending in verification, and changing our auto insurance to a policy that works here in Missouri.
There’s a lot of paperwork and back and forth for each of these. So be patient. Eventually the paperwork and the process will be done, and you can start feeling like normal again. But until you get there, be flexible. Be patient. And remember that it won’t always feel this overwhelming.
Make yourself a checklist so you don’t forget anything. Then start checking things off one thing at a time. You can’t do it all in one day, so pace yourself and take care of the most important things first.
4. Prayer Is Vital
Continue going to the Lord in prayer as you make the transition. It’s easy to think that now that God has faithfully gotten you to this point, you can let Him step back while you get settled. That’s a big lie. You can’t!
You must continue relying on God through this transition and beyond. Without prayer and prayer support, your mission field experience will be a failure.
So pray, and remember to pray with your kids. Pray as a family for everything, even things that seem little to you.
And as you pray, take time to record some of the answers to prayers you receive. You can look back at these in the future when you’re feeling discouraged and see just how much God has already done.
5. You Must Create a New Normal
The first month on your new field might be crazy. You might spend way more time on paperwork and procedures than actual missionary work.
Don’t let this discourage you. Once all of that is taken care of, you get to create a new normal. You’ll find new stores to shop at, and you won’t always need GPS to get to them. Pretty soon you’ll have routines figured out and know what needs done each day of the week.
Here’s a real life example from us. In our home back in Washington, we had two fridges (each with a top freezer), a small chest freezer, and a large chest freezer. Buying in bulk is how we always did things, since we’re feeding so many people.
But, here at Missionary Acres, our temporary housing only has a single fridge with a tiny top freezer. The first time we went shopping, we bought way too much and had to quickly make plans for what to do with the excess. We learned right away that what we were used to doing wasn’t going to work here, and we’d have to shop a lot more frequently as a result, buying less each time.
Praise God, we were able to purchase a stand-up freezer, and it’ll get delivered soon. That’ll be helpful, so we won’t be going to the store as often. Then we can take that shopping time and change it into something different.
All that to say, you will eventually find your new normal. Until then, be patient and be flexible.
6. God Is Faithful to Help
Above all, when you are adjusting to life on the mission field, ask God for help. He will give you the grace you need to make it through your challenges and struggles. He cares about you and is always there.
So call out to Him and ask for help. He is faithful to provide it…
Adjusting to Life on the Mission Field Takes Time
Adjusting to life on the mission field takes time. We haven’t yet completed the process and gotten fully adjusted, especially since we’re still raising support and are focusing on two different ministries (deputation and serving here at the Acres.)
So if you have any tips for us, we’d love to hear! Feel free to leave a comment below or shoot us an email at tanners2ma @ gmail.com
And if you’d like to learn more about our family and have us share our ministry in your church, please contact us.