Furlough: Survive Alive

 My family is almost done with our seven-month furlough, so I thought this would be a good time to share a few of my thoughts and tips on furlough.  There were tons of things that I enjoyed on furlough, but seven months away from home becomes hard for me and my siblings.  While furlough is fun, it gets challenging.



             My little sister loves spending time with family when on furlough

One of the most obvious reasons for why it is so difficult is that it is just hard to be separated from friends.  If your furloughs are similar to mine, you are probably visiting supporters and family almost every other day!  But no matter how many people you see, you still miss your close friends.  You miss having kids your age to talk with.  When on furlough, I've found myself holding back from starting a friendship because I know we'll be leaving in just a few months!  And after I assume that mindset, I feel lonely.

Reason number two is that visiting churches, talking with people you don't know, and explaining your ministry over and over again gets really tiring.   Have you ever had those double-duty days?  With one church in the morning, lunch at the pastor's house, another church in the evening and eating out with the members of the church.....and then the long drive back?  It wears you out!
                   

                Most kids have to listen to their dad's sermon every Sunday 
                             on furlough.  This is my sister's solution.
                                                 

The third and last reason I will give right now is the lack of steady routine.  Most furloughs are full to the brim with visits to churches and supporters, family and friends.  You don't have a regular school schedule, a regular bedtime, sometimes you don't even have a regular house!  You get worn out because your body longs for a semi-steady routine.  Every MK knows that schedules and furloughs don't go together.  It goes against nature's laws!

Here are a few tips for when you struggle with these aspects of furlough.  The biggest tip, however, is to not turn sour every time someone mentions furlough!  Even if it is hard, it is fun.  If you think furlough is awful, that will make it awful.

        Tip #1:
If you have a hard time without friends on furlough, make sure that before you leave for home assignment, you get your friend's email, phone number, or address so you can keep in contact. And don't step away from starting new friendships!  This past furlough I have made tons of friends, and it was much better than just moping around wishing I was with my friends in Africa.

      Tip #2:
 Some kids only see torture in the long days, but that only makes it worse.  My dad was a MK in Papua New Guinea and says the worst attitude on furlough is to look at it like a duty.  He said that the best way to view it is like an opportunity to be a blessing.  You can show up at a church and instead of leaving them with the impression that you hate furlough and hate visiting with them, you can have a godly attitude and graciously answer all the questions they ask.  Furlough is full of opportunities to show the love of God to many different people.

     Tip #3:
If you want friends to hang out with, see if your parents could check out a couple of the church youth groups that are close to where you are staying.  My parents did that with me this last furlough and, honestly, it was the highlight of furlough.  I loved it, and even though I probably won't see those kids for years, I wouldn't trade those happy memories and fun friends for anything.

My parting note to MKs is this: Don't look at furlough with dread.  You have been given the opportunity to visit with the people who love your ministry, the people who are funding you to serve in the country you do. If you look at it like a privilege, you will not only survive alive, you will be able to go back to the field without being emotionally drained.


       If you are still tired during furlough, there is always this option of instant energy.  :D

     

Comments

  1. Hello, I am Kyla. I am also an Mk, my family and I were in Papua New Guinea for 7 years, we had to return to the U.S due to some heath issues. We are now at the NTM training center, training missionary's to go out on the field. But I wanted to let you know, Abby, how good you wrote this, I know this life is hard but its so worth it. Perspective and attitude is really important and I love how you laid this out here. Good job.

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    1. Hey Kyla! I was actually just down visiting the New Tribes Base! My grandparents, Bob and Sandy Farran, live down there in Camdenton.
      You are completely right, this life is very much worth it! God bless, and enjoy Missouri while it still has warm weather left! -Abby

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    2. Wow, haha, yeah..Now I know why you looked familiar...I met you, at the creek one day, my mom was talking to your grandma, should have known it was you haha! Thanks!

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  2. Hi Abby! My name is Anna. I'm twelve. How about you? I really liked the blog and think you did a great job! I'm an MK in Tanzania, and I love it here! Where in Tanzania are you going to?

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    1. Hi Anna! I'm thirteen years old. We are heading to Dar Es Salaam, where are you guys based?
      -Abby

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  3. Loved your positive outlook! I had two MKs of my own (Spain) and they amused themselves by memorizing the goofy things about the churches--"Remember that ugly orange carpet in that church?" "Remember that balcony?" Whatever it takes! Loved your instant energy, too. Thank you for your upbeat look at furlough.

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    1. We do that with our churches also, but we give churches "awards". Like "friendliest church ever", or "biggest auditorium", or "most uncomfortable church pews". They are never negative, but they are just a fun way(the only way!) to remember the churches. :D
      -Abby

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  4. Hi Abby! We are based in Babati. It is a small town a couple of hours outside of Arusha, the second biggest town in Tanzania. We are at least a full day's drive from Dar:( Are you working with anyone? What mission board are you with?

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    1. So...if I got some of my Tanzanian geography right, you guys are kind of close to Mt. Kilimanjaro! We are with ABWE, and my dad is the regional director for East Africa...so we are basically working with all ABWE missionaries in the area. :)

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  5. You got it right! That's cool that you kind of get to work with all of the missionaries in the area. We are with GFF. It is a small Baptist mission board. Maybe someday I will get to meet you!

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