In July of last year, my husband and I moved our family across the world, from South Carolina to Bangkok, Thailand. While he has been travelling doing missions work for years, God made it clear last year, that we as a family would need to move in order for him to be more effective in this ministry.
So, we packed up our lives, got rid of most of what we owned, and said a whole bunch of really sad good-byes. We prepared for culture shock, but couldn’t quite prepare for how badly we would miss the sweet relationships we had at home.
In light of the last 7 months, I am thankful for some of the ways we have been shown love since our move. It is still really difficult to be away from our family and community, but these are some things that have made this transition a little easier.
Make time to talk.
Emails are great, but there is something about having a face to face conversation, that makes things seem a little more normal. Technology isn’t perfect, but it enables us to stay connected to those we love at home. Time differences can complicate things, but there is nothing quite like getting to see some familiar faces. Get Viber, Skype, Google Hangouts or Face time, and be intentional about making time to talk to those you love overseas.
Send a care package.
I cannot describe how exciting it is to get things from home. Think of how fun it is to get a package in the mail in the States. Add to that, getting a bunch of stuff you aren’t able to get where you live, and it is like Christmas morning on steroids! We have gotten a few care packages since being here. Each one filled with sweet, thoughtful gifts that bring a little bit of home to this big Asian city we are living in. Candles, lotions, three ring binders, note cards, peanut butter, Nutella, Clorox wipes and lip gloss are just a few of the items we have been sent and have loved! It can be pricey to send a care package, but if a couple of families send one together, you will bless the socks off of someone who would love a little taste of home!
Pray for them, and let them know you are praying.
Sometimes it feels like you are out of sight, out of mind. However, I know that there are plenty of people praying for us back home. If you are thinking about or praying for someone serving overseas, let them know. A short little email will go a long way to encourage someone who may be feeling a little forgotten.
Support them financially.
Whether you can offer monthly support, or can send some one time gifts, financially supporting overseas laborers is a huge blessing. Your giving, no matter how small, enables them to continue to work in the ministry God has called them to. Some other ways to offer some practical support: offer them your frequent flier miles, a place to stay on furlough or visits, purchase an item for their home oversees, or support a specific ministry project they are working on. Being financially involved in the ministry of those working oversees is not only a critical need, but a huge blessing to both you and those you are supporting.
Follow them on Instagram, Twitter or subscribe to their blog. Let them know that they are seen, even though they are far away. When they send out their newsletter, respond, and let them know that you have read it. We have some friends who always shoot us a quick email or FB message when we send out our newsletter, and we are always so encouraged by it! It makes us feel like they truly care. I love seeing comments on a blog post of pictures from our daily life here, it reminds me that my friends still care about what is going on in my life.
Obviously, when people move overseas, your life at home goes on. Those that move begin a new life that doesn’t include you in the same way their old lives did. But, being intentional about staying connected, including them in what is going on in your life, and sending them some love from home, can go a long way to bridge the distance and encourage them.
Danielle writes at This Life I Live. She is a believer, a wife, a mother, a Carrie Underwood lover, coke drinker, Starbucks addict and special education teacher. She and her husband recently moved to Bangkok, Thailand where she teaches and he serves as a missionary with SCPInternational. You can find Danielle on Twitter, Instagram and on her blog.