By Josephine Loh
It’s hard to be human in this season we’re all living in.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a lot of loss: plans have been changed, loved ones are separated, and political conflict has increased. Our communities are facing financial collapse, terminated traditional education and life as we know it has been taken away in the blink of an eye.
The majority of the world is facing these losses but if you are an MK, TCK, international student, working abroad or a missionary serving abroad, with our lives already being so fluid and changing, this global crisis comes with added layers of loss. The communities, relationships, ministries, and homes we’ve worked so hard to create in a new place or a place outside of our ‘hometowns’ seem to have disappeared almost instantaneously.
I’d like to create a space to name these losses, and point out that the emotions you are feeling–they are valid. I grieve with you in these losses that must be named.
To all the Missionary Kids in school:
Your community and place of belonging is something that you’ve invested so much time and energy into, and having it taken away for the next month or semester is an immense loss. That basketball tournament or school play you’ve been working so hard towards is now canceled or postponed. You are having to learn AP Physics in the confines of your bedroom instead of a classroom with peers. Even those summer plans you were looking forward to, are now put on hold. There are many things that may be deemed as unimportant but are indeed a big deal and worth naming the loss of.
To the College TCKs and International students living abroad for school:
College is such a special time and where you have hopefully found a home away from family, a community that has welcomed you in, mentors who have become like your parents. Your literal physical residence now taken away as you frantically pack up and search for temporary housing. It’s no small thing that you’re going through this. Every little frustration is a big deal and not to be disregarded. It’s hard to have family far away in such a time as this, and all the plans made for the next few months are unsure now. You’re not alone in this and there are people who want to help you through this confusing time.
This was your last semester and you were ready to graduate, all your hard work to be celebrated with a degree you have so faithfully earned. You have been waiting to celebrate one last time with those you entered into school with, to laugh and cry as your family and your roommate’s family sit together for a meal, to collect your diploma and feel that sense of relief, joy mixed in with sadness. Your anger and disappointment are valid and despite the distance, I hope you get the celebration you deserve in May.
To missionaries serving abroad, those with or without kids:
Those away from their family. Watching CNN’s headlines by the minute, debating flying home or staying put. Weighing the pros and cons. It’s exhausting. International missions and even local ministry put on hold makes us wonder what God is trying to do during this time.
With our mixed sense of home and confused identity, with visa issues and a passport preventing us from returning to what we call home we carry unique burdens. We are having to make big decisions that may determine the rest of this season and beyond. If you identify with any of these things, if you feel a sense of loss every way you turn, you’re not alone and the emotions you’re feeling now are real and valid. As we all navigate this pandemic, there is already a multitude of anxieties that society is feeling but as an MK, TCK, Senior, working or serving abroad, you have an added layer of loss. Name these losses, share these losses with others who are likely experiencing the same thing.
Within these losses, I hope you’ll still be able to see God in all of this. He grieves with you, but He is also above all of this. He isn’t surprised by this pandemic.
Despite the distance, as the Body of Christ, we were still made for community so name these losses and share these losses with friends and family. We were made to carry these burdens together.