I’m sitting in the training room at WorldVenture’s headquarters where Zack and I have been with 4 other couples and two single women, learning about safety and security, cultural adaptation, leaving well, finance protocol, requirements, language acquisition, teamwork, missiology, and more.
The weeks leading up to this training were overwhelming. We moved from the place we’ve been renting the past year and a half to a small transition apartment where we can stay until we raise the last 30% support we need before finally buying our plane tickets. Plus it was Christmas. Plus I was sick. Plus we had just re-homed our dog. Plus I had just finished seeing clients as a professional counselor (for the time being). As I’ve been sitting in training and even later at night in the hotel room, I’ve been crying because of the stress of all of these transitions at once and I just miss my dog and want her back. This also wasn’t just a normal move where you get rid of a few things and simply transfer everything over to the new place where things may stay in boxes for months. We sold our furniture. We sorted countless items trying to decide what to do with each piece of paper, keepsake, decoration, kitchen tool, photograph, keychain… Do I want to keep this, donate it, sell it, ship it, store it? If I store it, where do I store it?
For me, letting go of certain items is more difficult… or what I think is fine to get rid of, Zack wants to keep! It’s difficult for me to let go of personal items.
I’ve gone through boxes of childhood art, schoolwork trying to decide what I want to keep, what to throw away, or what I want to scan and then throw away. I’ve been reminded of childhood pen pals, show and tell, and writing poems about unicorns. I’ve packed a box of seashells with me every move of my adult life, which has been a source of (minor) contention between my husband and I. He asks me why I keep lugging this box of seashells from place to place. But they aren’t just seashells to me. I collected them on the beach as a child on a family vacation before my father was deployed for Desert Storm while my mom was still alive. They represent a time when my family was whole and I spent my time exploring, writing poems and searching for petrified sharks’ teeth on the beach. Sorting through things, I’ve been reminded of a time when life was more uncertain when my mom was sick with cancer and she wrote my sister and I a letter when we stayed with an aunt and uncle for the summer, and in the postscript, she reminded us to floss our teeth. Going through mementos from my teens, I’m reminded of a time when things were grey and I felt numb much of the time after my mom passed away and things fell apart. Making decisions for all of these items while also processing the emotions and grief surrounding the memorabilia has been difficult. I’m trying to allow myself space for this grief work but I also have to move on to other areas of packing the house and then clean before the end of the year.
…it would be so much easier NOT to be called (to the mission field).
This week, during the session on transitioning from your own culture to another, the speaker said that if we don’t address the baggage we have here, we will drag it with us and not be able to enter well into the future. Makes total sense, especially with my training as a mental health professional, but it’s easier said than done. I’m fine helping others express and process their feelings and experiences. It’s another thing when it’s my own. However, I have made a commitment to working through my own stuff and have completed several “rounds” of personal therapy. As difficult as it is, when I have a moment, I let myself cry or contemplate the way I will honor the life of my mother as I leave physical possessions behind, but carry my convictions, beliefs, and what I have learned into the next phase of life.
So many times during the move, I felt like I couldn’t make one more decision, so some items went into the boxes in the category, “to be determined later.” When we are unpacking at the new transition house, there will be a second purge and probably a third and fourth. And then, when we are packing for the plane, we will see what actually fits in our luggage! Although in this stage, I am not working a traditional job any more, I still have mental fatigue from all of these choices staring me in the face and there is no one else who can make these decisions but ME!
In the middle of the move, I told one of the members of our sender team, it would be so much easier NOT to be called (to the mission field). I wouldn’t have to leave behind the majority of my books, re-home my dog, not take my very nice, very heavy mortar and pestle.
Coming to the training has been helpful in being able to process all of these things, put it into perspective, and have practical things to do to process, plan, and cope in healthy ways. Even though I understand my emotional response of feeling unstable and vulnerable at being parted from so many of my physical possessions, I am reminded of where my hope lies…in the sovereignty of Christ. We’ve sold our furniture and kitchen appliances, but our needs are met. Even after moving into our transition apartment (fully furnished), I have been provided for. Some Czech friends have been responding to Facebook posts on our time during pre-departure training. They ask if we are on our way? When are we going to get there?
It’s been a few weeks, and someone else is using the mortar and pestle I so loved. (I sold it on Facebook Marketplace). My box of seashells is a little lighter but I will be storing it in the U.S. along with a few other keepsakes. Our journey to the Czech Republic is just beginning, and as difficult as this transition is, God is using it to transform me, teaching me to trust in Him.