Coming home can be wonderful, it can be strange and confusing and it probably results in a mix of all of those feelings.
In addition to re-entry retreats, please also note MCC resources and support networks below.
Connecting with other like-minded people during re-entry and transition times can be invaluable. This might be a good visit, a series of pot-luck suppers or it could take many other forms.
Children and youth also need a chance to work through aspects of the transitions.
All workers are strongly encouraged to attend a re-entry retreat. Travel and registration costs are covered by MCC. Attending an event like this is a great way to meet other people with similar experiences and to set aside some time for re-entry and transition. People who have completed assignments of 1 year or longer within the past 2 years (at the time of the retreat) are invited to attend. For general information, contact alumni relations.
February 20 - 23, 2014 - Camp Squeah, Hope, British Columbia. (reserve by December 20, 2013). Contact the Human Resources Department in Akron or Winnipeg for more information.
July 31 - August 3, 2014 - Black Rock Retreat Center, Lancaster County, PA (information will be sent in January, 2014)
There are many resources available for workers to help ease the re-entry process.
A Re-entry Workbook for Returned Missionaries and Volunteers
Robert Colburn, Juliet Huntley. 175 pages
The goal of the workbook is "to help returned missionaries and returned volunteers to discover their feelings, articulate their stories and recognize their fears and hopes. As a second step we will attempt to assist readers in understanding the experience of re-entry so as to enable them to become integrated and involved in their home country." Topics and sections include First Impressions, Settling in, Stories, Children and Teenagers, Scripture, and New Roots. This book is available for loan from each MCC office in Canada and the United States.
Canadian Churches' Forum for Global Ministries
47 Queens's Park Crescent
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C3
The code for this workbook is RE01.
The Art of Coming Home
Intercultural Press Inc. Maine, 1996. 203 pages.
"A valuable resource for expatriates returning home, the families returning with them, their employers, and family or friends who want to understand and support their transition." A good look at the issues and the stages of re-entry. A short section deals with unique re-entry issues for international volunteers.
The Third Culture Kid Experience - growing up among worlds
David C Pollock and Ruth E Van Reken
Intercultural Press. Maine, 1999. 333 pages.
A person who has spent a significant part of the developmental years outside the parents' culture is a third culture kid (TCK). The blend of home and host cultures (values, thought patterns, traditions) produces a third culture. Such people feel most at home, fit best, with others of a similar background. "Where is home?" can be a tough question.
After some years in a host culture a person may be "adopted" - look different (from the surrounding culture) but think alike. To look and think different is to be a "foreigner." In a home culture, one can be a "mirror" - look and think alike. Many TCK's in the home culture of their parents are "hidden immigrants"- they look alike but think different.
Questions of identity and unresolved grief are two of the greatest challenges for TCK's. An expanded worldview, a first hand understanding of the world, cross-cultural enrichments are benefits for TCK's.
One of the main things anyone, parents or friends, can do is to listen; be gentle, ask good questions.
Letters Never Sent - One Woman's Journey from Hurt to Wholeness
Ruth E Van Reken
"Letters." Indianapolis, IN, 1988. 165 pages
This is an "autobiography by epistle." The author was a child in a missionary family and this book is a series of letters that were never written. They are about boarding school,about being back in North America, about high school, about being with parents, about being away from parents. They are about relationships and marriage and becoming a missionary family They are about facing the hurts and moving toward healing. This is a wonderful book for all families with children who are moving between cultures. "I was reading it on the plane or I would have let myself cry. I'd like our daughter to read it when she comes."
Sojourners - The Family on the Move, a book of resources
Ruth J Rowen & Samuel F Rowen
Associates of Urbanus. Michigan, 1990. 298pages.
This book is about family and mission. The first two chapters on foundational principles about the family are followed by several chapters with many tools and suggestions for self-awareness, for communication, managing stress and facing differences Most exercises are for individuals and for processing as a family. Understanding self, building self-worth. listening, put-downs, noticing stress "flags," dealing with different environments and cultures are among the topics addressed in this book. This book could be helpful for many families who want to be more conscious of nurturing healthy people and healthy family relationships.
Strangers at Home - Essays on the effects of Living Overseas and Coming "Home" to a Strange Land
edited by Carolyn Smith
Aletheia Publications. NY, 1996. 230 pages.
A collection of good essays. Topics include a sense of place, "home," religious culture shock, swinging door memories, and aspects of identity.
Harold and Stanley say Goodbye
Torrens Park, SA (Australia). 1998. 26 pages
A children's story about how Harold and Stanley and their family are going to another country to be missionaries. The preparations and the goodbyes are different for Harold and for Stanley.
Re-entry, making the transition from missions to life at home
YWAM Publishing. Washington,1992. 156 pages.
The image of a space shuttle re-entering the atmosphere of the earth, with the possible dangers and the need for precision, is used to portray some of aspects of re-entering a home culture. Part 1 deals with leaving and closure and Part 2, Re-entry, discusses some personal attitudes, families and children and relating with churches.
Cross-Cultural Reentry: a Book of Readings
Austin, Clyde N (ed)
Abilene Christian University. Texas, 1986. 287 pages.
Cross-Cultural Re-entry, an annotated bibliography
Austin, Clyde N
Abilene Christian University. Texas, 1983. 128 pages.
A survey of the literature on cross-cultural re-entry issues: corporations, federal employees, international education, military, missionaries are some of the major sections in the listing.
The Transition Model: Seminar With David Pollock
Covers the process and stages of transition - not simply coming home but what happens every time a transition occurs - the stages, what to do about it. A must for those considering missions and those returning home from service or those who experience a lot of transition in their lives. All third culture kids and their families should see this video.
T.C.K. Profile: Seminar With David Pollock
David Pollock expands on characteristics of third culture kids (T.C.K.) - children who have spent a significant part of their developmental years in a culture other than their parent's culture. Looks at upside and downside for TCK's.