If I could tell you three things…

Hey there Christian. If I could share three things with you, here’s what they would be:

  1. Time is so much shorter than you think.
  2. You are so much richer than you think.
  3. You don’t have to find your calling.

Let me explain…

Time is so much shorter than you think. Truly, it is. We’ve got what? 80-90 years max? Maybe that sounds like a lot, but remember at least the first 18 of those are spent growing up. Suppose you lived in perfect health all of your adult years right up until your 90th birthday when you suddenly wake up in heaven. That’s 72 good workable years on earth. Maybe it sounds like a long time, but it isn’t. Not really. At 38 years old, 20 of my workable years are gone. Twenty years. Poof. Gone. Just like that.

The point is, it doesn’t feel like it’s been twenty years since high school. If two decades can pass that quickly, what about the next five? What if I don’t have five more?

Time is so much shorter than you think, so don’t let it just pass you by. There is a big, good world out there! Your life is an important part of it.

You are so much richer than you think. If you have a computer and internet at home to read this blog post, you are rich. You might not feel rich, but that’s not the point. I say this with heaps of love – unless you lack the resources to pay for basic needs like shelter and food, you are not poor. Not in terms of global poverty.

Recently, I bought my daughter new light up shoes for her first day at school. We exited the shop and as she danced happily on the sidewalk in her new shoes, a filthy, bone thin woman with crippled legs, wearing flip flops on her hands, dragged her body along the path in front of us. She is poor.

We have such a responsibility, you and I, to care for others. I don’t know why we were born in this time and in the affluent places we were, but I do know that the great gift of our circumstances is not meant only for ourselves.

You don’t have to find your calling. I’m not sure why in the western Christian world there seems to be such a big emphasis on the concept of finding your calling. As if there is one specific thing you were born to do and if you don’t figure it out you’ve somehow missed God’s plan for your life.

The thing is, your calling is really simple and you probably learned about it way back in Sunday School. Ready? Here it is – Love God. Love others.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

That’s it. That’s your calling. You can’t miss it because no matter what your job is, or where you live, or who you live with, that calling remains the same.

Love God. Love others. You don’t have to find your calling because you already have one.

Putting it all together. If we round all that up, here’s the charge:

Love God with your whole heart. He’ll fill it with love for others and there’s no telling where that love may lead you. Across the street or around the world, wherever you go know that you have far more to give than you may think. You are rich. That’s not a bad thing, it’s a gift you were given. Use that gift generously. Use it humbly. Use it today.

Newsletter Code Words

Before moving overseas, I read newsletters of cross cultural workers and thought something along the lines of, Well, that’s interesting. Now that I live overseas, I realize newsletters are filled with code words. Or rather, ordinary words that take on a bit of ‘extra’ when used in the context of living overseas.

For example: It’s been a year of transitions and adjustments. Is actually a neat and tidy way of saying: I’ve spent the last 12 months living out of a suitcase and making a ton of mistakes everywhere I go.

Ahh, now we understand what’s actually going on.

There are many, many more. In the interest of moving past the that’s interesting thoughts that may accompany newsletter reading, this post is devoted to decoding a few of our common words and phrases.

Code: Visa application process
Meaning: We’ve quit our jobs, given away our belongings, raised support, and are ready to go, but if this paperwork is denied all our plans are totally stuffed.

Code: Health issues
Meaning: This mainly means diarrhea.

Code: Prayerfully consider partnering with us.
Meaning: We really need people pray for us and donate money every month and are pretty sure if you just asked Jesus, he’d tell you to do it.
Note: No? It’s just me then.

Code: Rainy season
Meaning: Thank God for relief from raging tropical heat, but now there is mud everywhere and my laundry won’t dry.

Code: Graduating language school
Note: For some of us, language school is also known as “Language She’ol”. Yes, as in the dark and lonely realm of the dead.

Code: It’s been a difficult term
Meaning: We are so completely stressed out and yelling at each other all the time and quite frankly surprised to still be here.
Note: Respond to this newsletter and ask how you can help.

Code: Tired
Meaning: Utter exhaustion
Note: Gift this person a vacation.

Code: Multi-cultural team
Meaning: We’re all from different countries and the Dutch are rude, the Germans are inflexible, the Americans are too sensitive, and the Australians are very, well… Australian. Plus, it’s hard to tell jokes everyone understands.

Code: Thank you for praying!!!
Meaning: Don’t forget us. We might die if you don’t pray.
Note: Ok, I exaggerated…or did I?

Code: We could not be here without you.
Meaning: We could not be here without you.
Note: Maybe it sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s totally the truth. So is this…

Thank you. You have no idea how much your faithful encouragement and support means to us. We thank God for you.  

Even Jesus had a boat.

“Ok, this is what life is like there. You can’t change all the stuff happening around you. So what can you change to help you continue living there?” asked my counselor friend.

I just finished unloading a story about breaking up a racially motivated street fight and chasing my knife wielding friend down the street begging him not to stab anyone. Life was intense and for several years we’d simply been tumbling from one crisis right into the next. I developed a constant twitch in my left eye, would startle at loud noises or if someone came up unexpectedly behind me, and generally lived in a state of high alert. I could not shut off the adrenaline.

No amount of conviction and resolve to stay overseas would save me from the mental, emotional, and health breakdown I was heading for. We needed change, and fast.

Until that conversation, it hadn’t dawned on me that there were things I could change. Wasn’t this just how mission life goes? If I can’t hack it, should I really be here? This is really stupid thinking.

These days we are spending more and taking more breaks than I initially thought we would need. Like everything else, how to live well also needed reframing when we moved overseas.

As the reframing of living well began to take place, doubts and unease were constant. Before coming overseas I filled my mind with stories of missionaries who faced unfathomable suffering and counted it as nothing in the face of what Jesus had done for them. Who was I to ask for relief? Wouldn’t God ultimately work everything together for his good? Wasn’t the sacrifice worth it? Anyway, when I wrote publicly the stories of what we faced I was only ever encouraged to press on. You’re so inspiring! God is using you! Keep your eyes on Christ!

One evening I came to Mark 3:9 in my bible reading:

And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him…

In the margin of my bible I wrote, “Sometimes even Jesus needed to set boundaries in ministry. He had a boat! What do I need?”

Many people told me, “Jesus retreated to the mountain to pray.” as if all I really needed was a better quality quiet time. But up to that point, no amount bible reading and prayer changed the physical signs of stress in my body. How could it? I needed a boat, just like Jesus did. I needed a real, physical place where I could be protected from a very real, physical crushing.

My boat turned out to be a motorbike. Just as Jesus stepped into the boat to continue ministering without being crushed by the crowds, buying a motorbike allowed me to move through and around town without harassment.

 In the years since, we’ve made other changes as well. The stress in our surroundings remains at just the same high level, but we’ve moored other boats along the way. Well placed respites to protect us from being crushed.

The streets are still just as crazy as ever. Only a couple of days ago I pulled my son and daughter close to avoid getting caught in a fight between a mentally ill man stealing breakfast from a cart and the scissors armed cook jabbing at his head. “Come on, let’s go.” I said to the kids and we quickly got on the motorbike and rode away.

This is what a well-placed boat will do. It doesn’t change the difficulties of what we may encounter, but a good boat does keep us from being crushed- in this case a crushing likely from being followed, grabbed, and harassed by a mentally ill man who at some point would probably attempt to steal my bag as well.  

We are not wimps. We are not frivolous with money. We’re in this thing for the long haul. We want to stay and stay well. We just need a boat to do it.

I’ll be your friend if you let me.

We were the same age and seemed to have a lot in common. I remember thinking, “She’ll be my friend.” I was wrong.

Moving  to our new location overseas I believed making expat friends would be as easy as making friends has always been for me. Smile, engage in conversation, look for common ground, and make plans to see each other again. Easy. Actually, one of my favourite friendships started simply by shaking hands with a new couple at church and saying, “We look about the same age. Want to be friends?” And then we were.

Only now, in this new place, my smile and conversation weren’t working. I couldn’t make a friend. There seemed to be this invisible wall people placed themselves behind emotionally. I was new and my life ahead looked terribly lonely.

Six months after we arrived, a family returned from furlough. The wife came straight over and stuck out her hand. She smiled, introduced herself, and I felt like crying. After 20 years overseas she hadn’t disappeared behind the wall as so many others of lesser years had. I silently vowed never to disappear behind the wall either.

The years roll by. We say painful goodbye after painful goodbye. The wall sometimes seems like an inviting place. I understand now the emotional safety others have sought behind it.

But the wall is not for me.

I’ll be your friend if you let me. Let’s go walking together. Watch movies together. Come for dinner or a cup of tea. Bring your kids. Bring your good days and your bad days. You are welcome here. We’re all stretched thin and I know I’ll have to say goodbye to you at some point. In the meantime, I’ll treasure your friendship for what it is- a good gift meant for this particular time and this particular place.     

You are wanted here. It’s so very nice to know you. You have a friend in me.

How setting a Minimum Viable Day proved I’m not actually failing all the time.

Five years ago I arrived overseas believing that I could accomplish all the things in a day that I always had.

Before living overseas, a single day could easily include doing all the dishes, cooking dinner, sorting a load of laundry, grocery shopping, showering, playing with my toddler, a trip to the park, five hours at my part-time job, lunch with friends, reading a book, chatting with my husband, and watching a movie before bed. Some days could even include going to bible study. I had time to plan and teach Sunday School. I had time to volunteer with charities. I was busy, but it was manageable and I liked it.

I understood moving overseas would be an adjustment, but since I wouldn’t be working outside the home I was sure I’d have enough time on my hands to make the adjustment just fine.

I’m not sure exactly what year into living overseas it was, but eventually I figured out that although I technically had fewer commitments, I most certainly did not have more time. For the first several years overseas just putting three meals on the table took 6+hours of each day. I wish to tell you that with such a large amount of time invested these were fancy, filling meals, but they were not.

“I can do four things a day.” I said out loud to myself. “I can look after the kids, cook, clean the house, and homeschool. If anything else is added to my day one of those four things will not happen.”

If I go grocery shopping, one of those four things will not happen.
If I go to bible study, one of those four things will not happen.
If I take time to exercise, one of those four things will not happen.

I only have room for four things. That’s it. The trouble is, life constantly throws more than four things at me. How can I be expected to attend team meetings, search every store in town for butter, weed the garden, host visitors, keep up with supporters, or balance accounts when my day is already full to the brim with just the basics?

In product development, the concept of a Minimum Viable Product is the introduction of a new product to the market with only the most necessary features. The idea is that the product must be viable (it has to sell), and that by selling it the designers can gauge and learn from feedback, making improvements before releasing the product’s final version.

If I was to have peace of mind in this insane overseas life, I would need to develop my own Minimum Viable Day.

What are the minimum accomplishments in a day to consider it successful? Forget what I would like to accomplish. Forget the expectations of others (including my husband) of what I should be able to accomplish. What would a successful day look like if I stripped it down to the bare minimum? Could I identify the core things that must happen and then consider anything above and beyond that as the cream on top? When I really broke it down, this is what I came up with:

  1. My family ate enough food.
    Most days I try to serve creative, nutritious, filling meals, but this does not always happen. Tonight I managed a chicken pot pie followed by berry compote and custard for dessert. This was a really good day. A day when I not only had a plan, but also all the ingredients and time enough to cook it. It was a great meal, but it was also not an all the time meal. I can’t expect to feed my family at this level every single day. I’d like to, but I can’t. Sometimes I scramble to find anything more than toast. But toast still feeds my family and does not make my day unsuccessful.
  2. Homeschooling included some amount of reading and math.
    Our regular homeschooling schedule includes language arts, math, science, bible, history, physical education, art, and hands on work projects. I try my best to stick to the schedule, but there are days when this is just impossible. As long as the kids did some reading and some math review, the day is passable.
  3. I did something fun with the kids.
    Some days this is building elaborate train tracks with my four year old or high stakes chess matches with my eight year old. Other days this is multitasking a dance party in the kitchen as I make dinner. What I don’t want is for an entire day to whizz by without ever having stopped to breathe in and enjoy these two precious people God entrusted to us.
  4. I cleaned something.
    At the very least, I clean my stove. If I can go to bed with a clean stove top, I will feel ok despite piles of laundry, muddy footprints on the tile floor, and plates in the sink.

That’s it. For me, accomplishing those things on any given day is a day I can still feel good about. I consistently set the bar higher, but failing to reach it does not make me a failure. It just makes me a mom living overseas. And that is quite an accomplishment in itself.

I recently heard about the idea of setting a minimum viable day from a homeschooling website, which helped make further sense of my ‘four things’ realization. You can read that post here: https://homeschoolingwithdyslexia.com/productive-homeschool-day/

I thought I’d be doing amazing work. I’m not.

I moved overseas thinking I would be off doing amazing things. God had a purpose for me in Indonesia, I was sure of it. I would use my talents and abilities to help children or work with women. I would make a difference.

Maybe you thought these things, too.

It didn’t turn out that way. I am, according to the visa in my passport, an accompanying spouse. My husband has the big job, his daily life is the reason we are here. I am not even allowed to volunteer. I am secondary. My visions of missionary work interrupted by the reality of what it really meant for our family to live overseas.

Besides my husband, I am surrounded by friends who do equally spectacular work. They translate scripture. They teach. They help and heal the sick. They mentor street children. They spend weeks in difficult living conditions to help victims of natural disasters. They fly airplanes. They fly helicopters. They quite literally save lives.

These days I am not off doing amazing things. Even if my visa allowed it, life here takes so much time I simply don’t have room to do all the extraordinary stuff too. I clean. I cook. I parent. I home school. If it wasn’t for the place I live in, my daily life would be considered quite unremarkable.

But you know what? I’ve come to like it this way.

I find that I love Jesus more, I need Jesus more, here in the unremarkable than I ever did in the extraordinary. I pray more, “God, how do I love my family and love my neighbors well?” Because while waking early to make breakfast for my family or buying extra vegetables because I know the mama selling them is in need isn’t very spectacular, it is precious in God’s sight.

This is a simple life. The daily chore of laying aside my preferences to mop dusty floor is as far from missionary work as I ever thought possible.

There is peace and rest here in the simple way. I can stand and cheer on my husband and those friends doing amazing work. There is no comparison, no guilt, because while I pray and cheer for them from my kitchen I hear Jesus whisper, “I am pleased with you. I see you. I placed you exactly where you are.”

How to get into missions in just one month

Didn’t do great on your New Year resolutions? That’s ok, March can be your month. This easy to follow plan will have you storing up treasures in heaven in just 31 days!

March 2019 Get Into Missions Now Plan:


Ok, ok so it took my family 10 years to acquire the needed skills and experience to move overseas. We were probably just slow. I think this plan will work.

Into the Battle

I recently watched a video of a talk we gave on our last furlough. For an entire hour we shared with our home church all the glorious things we witnessed during our first term overseas.

Bible translation projects were completed.
For the first time in history believers had written songs to their Creator in their own language.
Local churches sent out missionaries to surrounding groups.
A church began in a new people group.

I could not hold back the tears as I listened to my two-years-ago-self share story after story of lives changed and bodies healed.

Although we live in that same town and do the same work with the same people, it’s almost as if that first term was a completely different place. The victory feels almost unrecognizable now.

Domestic violence.

The weight of sadness felt towards our town can be overwhelming. For the first time in five years I have pervasive thoughts of leaving.

“Just because we’re in the battle doesn’t mean we’ve lost the war.” My pastor tells me.

A battle rages for hearts, for minds, for healing, for wholeness, for salvation – not only for the people we came to, but for ourselves as well.

My thoughts are quick to betray me: I can’t do this anymore.

But scripture calls me home:
This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’
2 Chronicles 20:15

I am tired of fighting.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14

I am not enough.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:4

These hurts are too painful.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18

These problems are too big.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

I am afraid.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Deuteronomy 31:8

I am lonely.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, You are with me.
Psalm 23:4

I don’t know what to do.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:6

Yes, the grief and the hardship are real, but we are not powerless or alone. In both the victory and the loss, God is with us- Faithful, unchanging, loving, giving, working.

Into the battle we go. To God be the glory. Amen.  

Home for Christmas

Tomorrow we board the first of four planes on our way back home to England for Christmas. I say ‘home’, but like the vast majority of people who live overseas home is a peculiar concept. The concept of home is even more complicated in our little family of four as we span three continents by birth and nationality. We are a confused, but contented bunch.

This Christmas will be our American son’s first Christmas in a western country since age three as well his first in England. It will be our four year old Chinese daughter’s first Christmas ever.

My husband was born and raised in England and going back for him is very much a coming home. His parents have lived in the same house for forty years. We meet up with his old school friends. We go walking in the same woods he walked in as a child. English food, English humour, English manners are all a very big part of who he is. It’s lovely to watch him in his own environment, to see him take in a big breath of air – like he’s finally breathing easily again.

We love England, but for us other three England is a sort of a three quarters or maybe even just a half home. We claim it as our own, but don’t fully understand it.

“Mom, do they have rice in England?” my son asked today. “Yep. They just don’t eat it as much.” I reply.  The question surprised me though. We were in England just six months ago – does he really not know?

There are so many things we don’t know.

I am excited for my children to experience the jokes in Christmas crackers, carolers out in the street, cold weather, the gathering of all the family- grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins – together for a Christmas meal, to exchange gifts, for mince pies and mulled wine by a warm fire.

There is so much good to experience this Christmas in England. Then in the New Year we’ll come home to Indonesia, another not-quite-fully-home where we currently live.

In all the travel, in all the places we’ve lived, we did find home. Our mixed up and meshed together hodgepodge of cultures and experiences created our own unique family culture. Our favourite pancakes are rolled thin and served with lemon and sugar. We buy chicken on a stick slathered in peanut sauce from street vendors. We use chop sticks. We use forks and knives. We bake bread. We are squatty potty masters.

We are not just British, or American, or Chinese, or Indonesian – we are Hopkinsons. No matter where we are, we are home when we are together.


Merry Christmas, friends. May you be at home with the ones you love, wherever you are.

The Banana Story


A lady called at my gate, “Sister! Sister!” How annoying, I thought. It’s not even 8am.

Peeking out from my back door I recognized my neighbor and her daughter. They live a short distance away behind a group of banana trees.

Opening the gate, my neighbor stood before me looking at the ground. I know this look. The shifting feet, lowered eyes, hands clasped behind. “Sister, we are hungry. Rice is expensive and we have no more. I work hard, but it’s not enough…”

She dares to make eye contact and then quickly looks away. I am tired. I don’t want to establish a pattern of handouts. I’d rather give her work if I can, but even that can come with the expectation that I will help meet other needs as they arise. Besides, I don’t have any work for her this morning.

“It’s true.” I say, “Rice is expensive. I don’t have a lot, but I’ll fill a bag for you.” and begrudgingly turn towards the house.

Why doesn’t she have family to help her? Why doesn’t her church step up? Why does she have to come to me? My thoughts fly.

“Wait, Sister.” She calls and I turn around. “I brought you these from our garden. Thank you for the rice.” Her daughter held out a bag with two small bunches of bananas.

Compassion fatigue is a real thing and it means just what you think. You get tired, frustrated, resentful of the constant bombarding of needs.

That morning I felt the resentment hit hard the moment I opened the gate to the shrinking figure in front of me. But accepting the bananas, I remembered a conversation I had with my seven year old son the very day before.

“Where does our money to live on come from?” my son asked.

“The generosity of our donors.” I told him, “Those are people who see what we are doing here and want to be a part of it. So they send us money from their earnings to help us be able to live here and help people. It’s really something quite special.”

Yet there I stood at my gate, angry at my neighbors need, frustrated at the idea of giving her my rice. The very rice I’d bought through the generosity of others.

It’s God’s rice, Anisha. The bananas remind me.

Thank God for those bananas, for the checking of my heart. For the reminder that we’ve freely received. Why not give?

Signs You Need a Vacation Like RIGHT NOW

Greetings from Bali! My husband and kiddos are currently enjoying the roof top pool while I sit in the quiet of our hotel room sipping chai tea. About half an hour ago I had a 90 minute massage. An hour before that I had a caesar salad and steak lunch. Life is pretty good at the moment, but a week ago? That’s a whole different story.

A week ago I was angry that a patient died before my husband could reach her with help. I wasn’t angry out of compassion though. I was angry over the interruption of my quiet family day. The thought actually crossed my mind, “Why did our day have to be interrupted when she was dead anyway?”

Ouch. That’s ugly.

But that ugly thought is important because it’s a red flag. I’m not normally an ugly person. I usually have compassion on the people around me. When I feel angry at being inconvenienced by suffering and tragedy rather than moved to action, it’s a big fat warning that I need a vacation like RIGHT NOW.

There are other signs too…

Involuntary twitches

It’s almost comical, but I’m so not kidding. The muscles under and around my eyes start to involuntarily and constantly twitch. Even if I’m telling myself I can hang on a bit longer, I know its past time to get away when my eyelids start jumping.

Word loss

As stress accumulates I begin to struggle to give simple explanations and narratives. Answering questions like, “Which way did you go to get around the road closure?” is about the same as asking me to explain Space-Time Continuum to my 7 year old.

The old joke rings true: I look worse than my passport photo

It’s hard to get good sleep when your mind is running a hundred miles an hour. That lack of sleep shows, especially on my face. When the dark circles under my eyes and a constant grouchy no-smile mouth start to make my passport photo look like a glamour shot, I know it’s time for some serious rest.

People start to notice

“Oh wow you look tired.” my friend said and as my shoulders slumped she followed up with, “When was the last time you guys took a vacation?” If friends are telling me it’s time to take a break, then it really is time to take a break.

Overly sensitive

True story – This week I held myself a full-on pity party complete with big, rolling tears because friends who spoke English were talking together in their own language and I couldn’t understand them. My four year kept stroking my cheek and saying, “Mommy no crying. Mommy ok.” It was ridiculous, and I knew it, but when you are overly tired you’re also overly sensitive.

All the Problems Are Ginormous Problems

Our freezer, fridge, and washing machine are all on the same circuit in our home. I am constantly forgetting to not boil the electric kettle or turn on the microwave or start the rice cooker while the washing machine is on. The overloaded circuit and my forgetfulness is a pain in the neck. Unless I’m overly stressed and then it’s the worst thing ever and a legitimate reason to quit and go back to America, the land of strong electricity.

I can’t remember why I ever wanted to move overseas in the first place

Left too long, all of these signs of stress culminate in a giant loss of perspective. Our work begins to feel meaningless and I struggle to remember why we ever moved overseas. This feeling is a sign of burn-out and I know if left to fester, it’ll take a lot more than 2 weeks on the beach to recover.


I’d bet that most of us are not that great at making sure we get the rest we need. Go on and book that vacation before something silly like overloaded circuit breakers has you making plans to move.

If I Had to Get a Job

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to try to get a job back in the good ol’ USA after having lived overseas. Given the general bizarreness of my current overseas life in relation to my past US life, I imagine securing employment would be a somewhat awkward process.

Life here is wildly different than my past life. Just this week I was felt up at the pharmacy by a mentally ill topless woman. How do you translate that kind of experience?

Imagine answering standard job interview questions…

Why did you leave your previous job?

God was leading us elsewhere.

Note: That is a terrible answer. Avoid Christianese at all costs.

What is your greatest strength?

Strong stomach. It wasn’t always like that. I had amoebic dysentery for about four months when I first moved overseas, but since then it’s been mostly good except for that other time when I got typhoid. I’ve learned to eat the chilies.

Note: Brainstorm alternative greatest strength.

What is your greatest weakness?

Goodbyes. There are a lot of goodbyes when you live overseas and each one left a hole in my heart.

Note: Don’t be so honest. You’ll scare the interviewer.

How do you handle stress and pressure?

Internalize it and develop post-traumatic stress. But I have a counselor now and am learning healthy coping mechanisms.

Note: Interviewer is not asking how you handle threats of bodily harm. They are asking how you handle getting the financials in on time.

Alternative answer:  I am used to working in a high stress environment. When living overseas there is always something that goes wrong or causes delay. You learn to just pour another cup of coffee and get on with it.

Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.

The first couple months of living overseas are typically really fun, the honeymoon period. Then you tumble head first into the abysmal despair of reality. I didn’t surface again for the better part of a year, but eventually I did surface. I learned how to speak the language, how to substitute every imaginable necessary ingredient and cook from scratch, how to hang clothes on the line so they don’t stretch in weird ways, how to butcher chickens, and a million other things.

Note: I don’t think this is what they mean by “difficult work situation”.

Do you work well with other people?

I am able to work with other people. Not always well.

Note: Unless directly applicable to this job, now is not the time to get into the intricacies and challenges of working in a multi-cultural/multi-denominational team.

Alternative answer: Yes, I do.

What are your salary expectations?

A predictable, non-fluctuating, non-emotionally-inspiring-newsletter dependent amount of money each month.

Note: Google alternative answers.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

What? I’m sorry. I’m not sure I understand the question. Do people really plan 5 years in advance?

Note: Yes, they do. If you don’t have to worry year to year about whether your visa will be renewed, or if you can still meet the educational needs of your children, or if you will burn-out from the stress, you can plan and dream for the longer term future. What an amazing thought.


Our visas expire in three months and we have to leave the country to apply again. Here’s to hoping we can come back. I really don’t want to go on a job interview…