My Pre-Furlough Mind

In 32 days, it’s furlough time! After 3 years serving overseas, we’re heading back for 6 months. We are completely and ridiculously over the moon excited. My son keeps asking if we can go straight from the airport to the mall. The other day my husband sighed, “Right now I just want to be sitting in front of Simmon’s Bakery eating an iced bun.” As for me, I dream daily of swimming pools and running in the woods.

I can’t wait to see everyone, hug, laugh, and hold on tight because for the first time in years we are actually standing in front of one another. But, oh boy, there it is – the plain fact that it’s been years since we left. A lot of life happens in 3 years.

As I prepare for furlough, I’ve got 7 things on my mind…

1)When we left, Downton Abbey was on season 3
Is Downton Abby even still on? The last I know, Lady Mary and Matthew finally got engaged. Popular music? No clue. New words to make their way into pop culture? Again, no idea. Three years ago, the Harlem Shake ruled the internet and pre-teens lost their minds over Bieber swag.

2)My son is going to think something “normal” is really funny and weird.
My son has spent half his life in Indonesia. We’ve been coaching him on how things are done differently back in our family’s passport countries, but I’m sure we’ll miss something out. Last trip back, he loudly pointed out all the bare breasted statues at the garden centre. While other children walked by without so much as a glance, giggles and shouts of, “Look Mom, more nipples!” trailed after me through potted plants.

3)I’m afraid I won’t remember names
I feel really bad about this one and I might be panicking for no reason, but I’m still panicking. I can see it all play out in my mind – We’re at church. A familiar face heads towards me. I’m smiling and wracking my brain but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t remember a name. Perhaps this is all completely irrational, but it’s still freaking me out a bit.

4)My clothes are awful
Before going overseas, I promised myself I wouldn’t be one of those odd looking missionaries showing up to Sunday services in old, worn out clothes. Unless I make it to the store before Sunday, I absolutely am one of those missionaries. My clothes are old. They have holes and stains and are stretched from line drying. I need to go shopping. And a for haircut. I really need a haircut.

5)We’ve experienced trauma
We’ve had some bad things happen to us. We’ve scheduled a debriefing retreat, are getting counseling, and are working through hard things. We’re putting structure in place to better care for ourselves. Still, I worry people will think we’re a bit off or perhaps emotionally raw, but won’t understand why.

6)I need more than 5 minutes
When friends say, “So tell me about life in Indonesia”, I have no idea how to answer. I might say, “It’s good!” but really, what does that even mean? I’m holding out hope someone will say, “Welcome back! Let’s go for coffee and long catch up.” and we can both listen and share about our lives over the last 3 years.

7)My ‘Thank You’ isn’t enough
How can I adequately express just how thankful I am for everyone who prays, encourages, and supports us? I’ll bring back a woven bracelet or some other unique thing from my overseas home and say, “Thank you. We wouldn’t be here without you.” but am still so aware how short words and trinkets will fall. However sincere, my ‘thank you’ isn’t enough.


What’s on your mind pre-furlough?

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Anisha Hopkinson

Anisha was born to Chilean and Texan parents, first tasted missions in Mexico, fell in love with an Englishman in Africa, and now lives in Indonesia. She journals about cross-cultural life, helping people, and loving Jesus on

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