Re-entry & Telling your Story
Been on a mission trip? You know what comes next. You may struggle with jet lag and reentry. And, though some may not realize you ever left, many kindhearted people will pepper you with questions about your trip.
Some of these questions might be specific or really probe at where your heart is emotionally and spiritually. Other questions will feel insensitive and ill-timed. Most often, the majority of questions will be fairly generic.
- How was it?
- Are you glad to be back?
- Are you over jet lag?
- How was the food?
Answering questions about how your trip went can be surprisingly daunting, especially when it gets to be the fiftieth or hundredth person asking you that SAME question.
Here are a few tips for engaging well with people who ask you questions.
It may help to remember that each person who asks questions actually cares for you. They may not know what to say, but they are making an attempt. In that moment, recognize that many of these people spent time on their knees or gave financially for you to be on your trip. This will help you keep a thankful heart.
Although you have heard the same questions over and over again, this is the first time for that person. They are not aware that other people have asked you the same questions. They might see you and wonder if you have had others to process with, or worry that no one else has showed interest.
This is an opportunity for you to work on your communication skills.
If you are an introvert, you might be dreading all the extra people time. Even extroverts might start to feel pretty worn out a couple weeks in. Wherever you land on that spectrum, it is an opportunity for you to grow. You may get to speak in front of a church or small group or engage with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile. You have the opportunity to respond graciously.
This could also be an opportunity for you to help others learn some of the things that you have been learning. You may be surprised how many people will come away from the conversation encouraged or challenged by hearing a bit of your story.
Come up with 20-second highlights or a two-minute rundown of your trip. You can use these to tell your story instead of expecting to pour yourself out to everyone. Share truth, even if you don’t share ALL of it. A quick answer is worlds better than flatly rejecting an inquiry. If you end up in long-term ministry or missions, you will have many of these conversations with friends and supporters. Are you going to put off learning how to engage with all kinds of people? Or will you embrace it and see how much of a blessing it can be?
Answering these questions never gets easier.
You may be tempted to shut down or start to numb. Try to see each person with the heart of Jesus. Engage with them. Use these conversations as an opportunity to teach or be taught. Your love for people, your awe in what God did on your trip, and your love for the world will only increase.
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