Adjusting to a new culture is hard work; there’s the language of course but simple things like buying food aren’t easy when you can’t just walk into a supermarket to buy it.
Amy Young’s new book uncovers some of the practicalities of moving overseas as mission worker. It’s a great read, recounting the events of her moving to China and the early months there and weaving her own reflections with results from a survey of over 100 of mission workers who described some of their own feelings and experiences; so the book has lots of first hand observations and anecdotes. It’s practical, contains bits of wisdom and is generally insightful.
Reading the book it struck me how quickly we forget the process and challenges of those first few weeks – if nothing else this book is a reminder of the joys and stresses.
For me the best chapter was the one on the four languages you didn’t know you’d learn……the grammar of grief, the syntax of celebration, the tenses of stress and the parsing of suffering. These grasp the range of complex emotions and experiences that many have as they face tragedy, illness and joy whilst witnessing suffering, poverty and faith altering events.
In many areas there are better (more detailed, theologically robust) books, but this covers all the bases in a light easy read style. This is mission prep for those who don’t feel able to do a lot of reading, but who will benefit from insights by people who have gone before.
Full disclosure, I was given a review copy of it as someone who leads a mission organisation. Having read it, I’d happily give every person we send overseas a copy of this book as part of their preparation.