A Missionary Speaks to Her Love-Hate Relationship With Home Assignment

Most of the missionaries I have met have a love-hate relationship with Home Assignment.

The “love” part comes from having a break in the action at the field, a chance to step back and renew energy for ministry.  Home Assignment is also a chance to see family and friends, to reconnect with partner churches and individuals, and to connect with potential ministry partners.  This last idea could go in the “love” or “hate” column depending on the missionary’s preference for meeting–and remembering–lots of new people.

The reality is that with each of these joys comes pain.  It’s tough to leave new friends and ministry partners on the field.  It’s tough to leave the work we have poured ourselves into for the past few years, praying that whoever is taking on our responsibilities acts responsibly while we are gone.  It’s tough to decide what will happen to your home and “things” on the field:  Sub-let?  Pack-up and put where?  Give away?  (Didn’t I just do this on the other side of the globe?)  At the same time, decisions about housing, a car, a phone number in the States.

But it’s especially tough when we actually see our family, friends, and church partners and realize that we have missed noteworthy events in their lives.  I remember the excitement of getting together with a couple with whom we had planted a church before we went overseas.  We learned that a parent, for whom we had prayed faithfully for years, had had a fairly miraculous conversion experience just days before he died.

If I had still been nearby, I would have been there to rejoice when she was rejoicing and weep when she was weeping (Romans 12:15).   I felt robbed and guilty at the same time.  And I wondered how my not being geographically close had communicated that I was no longer participating in her life.

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About baxjan

Jan is a contributor currently on home assignment from the Philippines.

View all posts by baxjan


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2 Comments on “A Missionary Speaks to Her Love-Hate Relationship With Home Assignment”

  1. Jenny Valentine Says:

    Good words Jan!



  1. Conversations in Mission: Ordinary Missionary, Committed Pastor, Gracious Giver « FULFILL - December 2, 2011

    […] Home assignment is typically a difficult time in the life of a missionary.  Hyper travel, reconnecting with relationships and raising support can cause a missionary to long for the mission field.  {Read about one missionary’s love-hate relationship with home assignment.} […]

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