It’s been three years since I’ve been to Ohio, which is where our support base is centered. This June will be my first time to return since I’ve been more connected via Facebook and blogging. I wonder if it will make any difference. Do people know me better? Will that be a help or a hindrance?
For me, I enjoy seeing who’s gotten married, who’s become a grandparent, who’s made fabulous trips I have enjoyed vicariously by seeing online photos. It’s been fun “liking” these events on Facebook and leaving quick comments occasionally. I’ve been in touch when tragedy has hit certain friends, and I’ve been blessed to pray for them during the dark nights of loss.
But how will this affect my re-entry into their real lives?
Before this season of re-acquaintance via the computer, I noticed that friends’ lives are busier each time we visit the States. Even being in the neighborhood for a whole summer, I have little hope of seeing people more than once or twice. That’s just how it is nowadays. I get it—sort of—but it still hurts a little bit.
Don’t you ever long to see your friends and family, and secretly imagine a wonderful happy reunion where everyone embraces you, welcomes you back, and then honestly cares that you are there? I know I sure do. Deep down, though, I realize that friends are overwhelmed enough as it is. Their lives have very little margin to allow for free time to hang out with their missionary friend, even if they wanted to.
The nagging question is “Do they really want to spend time with me anyway?” Maybe they view me as a persistent Amway salesman who only wants to entice them to spend an evening so I can try to gain their support. Maybe deep down I really do wish they would get on board, even if I’m too chicken to ever mention finances.
Anyway, it’s funny that just as I have developed my “voice” in writing, and have met so many new e-maginary friends, all of a sudden I feel insecure with the whole “being in the States for a mini-furlough” business this summer. People know that the main reason we are there is to try to raise more support. Will they just try to avoid us? Will they even care? Will we have anything in common with our former friends and acquaintances?
Have you been there, done this recently? Can you talk me through the process again? What works? It’s not that I have forgotten, but I wonder if what I used to know is even relevant any more. Is there some new hip way to relate to others and still share needs from the mission field?