There is a term we throw around a lot: re-entry. If you've experienced it you know what we are talking about, but if not it's the period of adjustment you go through right after returning to a "normal" life after a not-so-normal experience. We call it re-entry because it is an awful lot like being an astronaut and coming back to Earth. We got knocked around by it after our first mission trip to Jamaica. We rode it out after our year traveling the US in 2013. We did it poorly after our recent trip to Kenya. Very poorly.
Had Kenya been an actual space mission, I would have burned up in the atmosphere.
As re-entry is something we will be doing every few months now, it would behoove us to get better at this. There is just so much good God stuff that you gain from a project trip, it would be a shame to waste it by not processing it well. To that end, we are working on a game plan. We are grateful to EMI for giving us resources in the form of a staff member who is well-versed in this stuff and who recently gave us a lunch seminar full of good advice. Stuff like:
Personally, I have a few pre-trip items on my agenda as well. They include studying some Uganda history. Some. There has been precious little written about African history, and the few who chose to tackle it felt compelled to make their books 800 pages long. I am also shutting myself out of all social media and avoiding looking at my phone very much for the next two weeks. I've noticed that scrolling a newsfeed and switching frequently between several apps seems to train my brain to have ADD -- I become highly distractible, forgetful, and really lose my ability to focus for more than 30 seconds. That causes me to miss the best moments happening right in front of me, NOT good for a photographer (or someone trying to read an 800-page book).
And of course, there is prayer. Plenty of that.
So, how about yourselves? Have you ever had to do a cultural re-entry of any kind, and what did you learn from it?
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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