Preparing for Stateside Ministry Assignment

We love our job as cross-cultural workers and getting to share about how faith impacts every aspect of our lives, even our work. Another part of our job is also ministering to those in our passport country. We love being able to encourage the Church with stories of God’s transformational work in Romania, and hear stories from those in the States that we can bring back with us.

We usually spend 2-ish years in Romania and 3 months in the States. Some organizations call this time furlough, but that carries a connotation of only rest and purposeful study, and others call it home ministry assignment. We have chosen to call it Stateside ministry assignment. Romania is our home, the US is our childhood home, and it helps to make the distinction for us. Also, it is a ministry assignment; we think of this time as part of our job. Thankfully, we do get to have some vacation time with our families while we are back visiting, but this is not a 3 month vacation. Our visit is so multi-purposed it is hard to explain. Yes, we are visiting family. Yes, we hope to rest some. But we also visit churches, share with small groups, and meet with friends. As well, we try to keep up with those in Romania to continue the work there too through online meetings, and studying and equipping ourselves for future ministry.

As we prepare to make another SMA this summer, I wanted to share some of the thoughts and feelings we experience.

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

We love to share with people how we have seen God at work, but as this A Life Overseas blog shares, we also have to prep to have a presentation for a big church, a small church, one with media and one without, a small group, a get together in a park, and the courtyard/parking lot/elevator presentation. Some will give us 35 minutes, and another time we have exactly 3.5 minutes, so quick, decide what’s important! Also, we really want to remember everyones names! But sometimes, we forget or our brain decides to stop working. Also, big crowds help us share with more people but extrovert-ing is tiring and sometimes we just crave some one on one time. We miss being able to host people ourselves.

It is so hard to share “how’ve you been?” from the last 2 years in 5 minutes. After 2 long years, time to catch up and hear how God has been working in your life is sweet to the soul! Worshiping as a congregation and hearing the Word preached in our first language is so life giving. Not having to think through my prayer fully ahead of time but being able to be led by the Spirit knowing that I’m not excluding others around me by praying in English is something I cherish, but we also miss the worshiping in Romanian and learning something new from a text in a different language.

Time in the states is also hard because you have “emotional whiplash,” a term that this ALO blog shares about. We are happy to be in a familiar culture and language, but it’s unfamiliar as well. We are not the same anymore, and neither are the people we get to meet with every 2 years. We have all changed. Let’s add different pandemic experiences to exacerbate the feeling! We try to keep up with people, with the news, and politics of it all while we are in our Romanian home, but it is hard. And sometimes we see it differently from a distance. It’s also hard when we are told we don’t get a say or just don’t understand because we don’t live in the US. We dread some of the political conversations; we also dread being dismissed.

There is this cultural divide that is hard because nobody knows what to talk about. Often times, we don’t catch the cultural reference, or our life is hard to imagine so people just don’t talk to us and are just around us. It can be hard to know how and where we fit in.

We also feel pressure to spend time with everyone that we can because we know if we miss seeing you, it will be 4 years since seeing each other the next time. We hope people will still want to see us. We never want people to think we are only trying to see them to “ask for money.” We love to share in what God is doing in Romania and that we get to participate in that together with one another, because God is good and faithful! We also want to express our gratitude for coming alongside us in this ministry, for helping to equip and encourage us! And how do we do that? What do we bring that shares all of the thankfulness for being faithful to give, pray, share, and love us?

Thank you for reintroducing yourself, for being patient with us, for accepting us as changed, and wanting to ask us questions about our lives and sharing your lives with us. This Velvet Ashes blog says, “Who are your “I couldn’t do this without you” people? Who are the ones that show up for you? Who are the ones you lean on so you can do what you do? Who has given you their air mattresses, guest beds, and couches? Who has housed you for longer than is socially acceptable?” We have a long list of people who have done all of these things for us and more.

Image made by Karen Huber

Thank you for your sacrifices for us to live in Romania, for hosting us, for making time to visit with us, for listening and praying, and for being the body of Christ to us.

We look forward (with lots of emotions) to seeing you all this summer.