May 10, 2017 | Melissa Weissenberger
It has been 71 days since I wrote a newsletter to be mailed out.
It has been 116 days since I last published a blogpost on this site.
What prompted this period of silence?
In my previous post, I talked about our field conference and how Chris and I are struggling. Life did not get any easier since that post and we have not exited or entered a simpler stage of transition. We’re even closer now to leaving, even closer now to our unknown futures, and continually hugging people for the last time.
This is Chris, playing with two missionary kids for the last time tonight at our weekly prayer meeting. These two children adore him, climb all over him, ask him a million questions, and he always gives them his undivided and enthusiastic attention.
I have had the pleasure of watching my husband pour his love out on these children for just shy of two years. I have had the privilege of having raw conversations about marriage and life with their mom, who has become a dear friend. We have shared meals together, had game nights, and swapped so many laughs that their departure tomorrow morning makes me feel like I need to grieve the death of a loved one.
We did this in February, too. Another dear family, to whom we had grown close, transitioned home. Their 9 year old daughter had become my “mini me” and sat next to me at most Wednesday night dinners.
And in 23 days, my 7th grade students from 2011 will cross a graduation stage as the newest class of SCCLC graduates, no matter how much my heart is begging for time to slow down.
Whether we admit it or not, Chris and I have been functioning in a state of emotional, physical, and mental burnout since at least December.
Did we burn the candle at both ends? Did we stretch ourselves too thin? Did we not have appropriate and healthy boundaries?
These are the questions that circle my mind when I try to reflect and consider how it all could have gone differently. We signed on for a 2-year term, knowing that if it went well, we could stay for a third year.
That’s no longer an option.
We are both currently receiving professional counselling. We need to come home, and we’ve officially purchased our plane tickets for July. We need time to heal and to evaluate all that has happened these past two years.
At the end of March we intentionally took a week’s break from school and traveled to the Salt Flats in Uyuni, Bolivia. Spending 3 days out in the deserts of the Chilean frontier was a breath of fresh air to my soul. I wrote poetry again for the first time in years and we gazed at the incredible wonders of God’s creation together.
While we were out in the desert, one prayer that I kept repeating was that I wanted God to show us our impact. I wasn’t looking for affection or applause, but I earnestly felt lost in regard to evaluating how these two years of ministry have been. When you struggle with anxiety or depression (which we both most likely do struggle from a bit of both), it can be difficult to see beyond the current emotions or current problems.
Upon return from our trip, we collectively had four different sets of parents, and a handful of colleagues overtly express to us their gratitude for our service here. One parent told us that she has seen her children’s confidence grow in themselves and in their faith these past two years in ways she’d never imagined as they served through student government with me and as they attended youth group and camps led by Chris.
It doesn’t make it any easier to leave, hearing these kinds of encouragements. It does make it easier to “finish well”, though.
2 years ago, we packed up everything we owned and said goodbye to every friend and family member we had in the US. We had to start again down here to recreate a sense of “family” amongst missionaries and to establish meaningful friendships. Now, as we look at leaving in July and as many of our beloved ones here leave in June, we have to reverse that entire process.
Perhaps that’s the daunting emotion that has kept me silent for months. I don’t have sufficient words to express the emotional pain that I live in as I constantly say goodbye to a world of people who have so profoundly impacted me.
As we look toward our return to the States, we will need every loved one to come alongside us and welcome us home. Would you begin to pray for our transition? There are so many unknowns and one of the biggest is how we will emotionally transition to the States and back into old friendships.
Thank you for your unwavering support, even in our silence. Thank you for your prayers and thank you for believing in this ministry and God’s purpose in the first place, which propelled us down here. It is because of you and on behalf of you that we have spent these two years in ministry here.
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