Guest Post by Aaron and Bobbie Howley
“It will never be the same.”
Oh how those words burned me! The it was my life. Two months earlier I had moved to Kampala, Uganda with my husband and three sons in a transition to mission life. When that sentence seared meanly through my brain, I was tired, sick, culture shocked, and quite tempted to abandon all I’d ever worked to do and be. But the truth of the hot whisper in my mind stopped me. Because really, quitting wouldn’t give me back what I wanted—my normal, comfortable, manageable life.
I had to find a way through to a new normal.
For the next two years I watched guests come and go from the mission guesthouse we ran. Many came fresh off the plane, ready to save Africa, and fulfill their perceived calling. They often stayed with us as housing details were arranged, phones were activated, money was exchanged, and vehicles were purchased. Once all was set, they were off to what most believed was a wonderful experience serving the Lord.
For many it was wonderful, but it was also agonizing. They came back with stories of God working despite the illness, culture shock, and exhaustion common to missionaries. They struggled through like I had and came to peace with the fact that their lives, the very basis of who they were as people would never, ever be the same. Together we learned to embrace and rejoice in the new people God had formed in us and the actual callings He had beyond the perceived ones we’d brought.
This is the story for missionaries—learn the new normal of who you are in this new place and the work that needs doing while being at peace with what the Father is doing.
But then—depression, abuse, immigration laws, robbery, attacks, car-jacking, vandalism, persecution, anxiety, spiritual warfare, tribal violence, evacuation…
There are moments in mission life which are not standard, not feelings we all must face, and not issues each one addresses. There are moments that qualify as trauma, moments that cause deep, ongoing pain that needs professional intervention.
As we ran the mission house, we saw the need for such intervention to be readily available. Until this year, emotional and spiritual help for missionaries facing crisis in east Africa was hundreds of miles away on difficult roads.
Our prayer and plan is to return to Kampala in June to join a new missions counseling practice which helps people cope with the daily stress of cross-cultural life, as well as the intense, traumatic aspects. We believe God’s workers deserve a chance to find the new normal that comes after extreme circumstances, and our heart is to be with them in that process.
We are always happy to answer questions about our work and organization. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or would like to connect personally over a cup of African chai!
Aaron and Bobbie Howley