I had flown to China before, but that was always with a return ticket. When I moved to China, my ticket was one-way. Back in the day, smoking was allowed on the flights. I was on a Chinese based airline and I began to understand some of the changes I was in for when the flight attendants commandeered the last three rows of the middle section and build a blanket fort.
They took turns going into it for smoking and rest breaks. You can picture the waves of smoke that escaped when someone went in or out.
Do you remember the feeling as you disembarked from the plane? Though late at night and exhausted, the muggy August air smelled . . . like not my home country. I had finally arrived. To this day, if I arrive at an airport late at night and it’s muggy and the wind blows just right, a small wave of exhilaration washes over me.
Ah, the first year on the field.
Welcome to those of you who have recently arrived on the field or are in the throws of getting ready to move to the field. We’re so glad you’re here!
Though you’ll be going through many transitions and your journey will be unique, you do not need to go it alone.
Do you wish your first year came with a handbook?
I wrote Getting Started: Making the Most of Your First Year in Cross-Cultural Service to be just that. Getting Started enables you to glean from those who have gone before you, to stay close to God, and to grow in cultural knowledge—all the while flourishing in fulfilling your call.
What’s one unexpected pitfall of the first year?
Ironically, it can be staying connected to God. In your passport country you knew how to stay spiritually fed and understood the language spoken at church. With time, you’ll make friends, learn the language, and even start worshipping in another language. But as you’re establishing yourself in your new host culture, stay Connected: Starting Your Overseas Life Spiritually Fed.
Do you have any tips for my first year?
In addition to buying the two books mentioned above, you bet I do! Here an article I wrote with 3 Tips For Your First Year.
What does role deprivation look like?
While it will look different for each person, there tends to be two universal signs you’re experiencing role deprivation in your first year … as uncomfortable as role deprivation is, it’s one of the most tender ways Jesus identifies with us! Here are a few signs of you might be experiencing role deprivation.
A couple of years ago I was going to host a year-long group for those in their first year and we would work our way through Getting Started, but then the pandemic happened and not many people were able to move around the globe. I’ve created a survey to gauge interest in a group running from September 2022 through June 2023 for people early in their missionary journey. Could you either take this survey or share it will people who have been on the field less than two years.
We truly are glad you’re here. We need you and your fresh eyes and hearts! Welcome.
And thanks for helping with the survey, Amy