Honouring your story of cross-cultural ministry, or ministry in the home office, through reflection, retreat and debriefing
October 24-27, 2017
This retreat is for you if you are…
- back in Canada from overseas, longing for people to ask you about your time away and to be really interested in your story—all of it—your joys, your successes, your disappointments, your struggles
- wondering if life in your passport country will ever feel normal
- feeling that you have so much more to process even after your debriefing with your member care worker
- disappointed that you’ve never had the opportunity to debrief
- confused by conflicting emotions of grief, joy, anger, relief, guilt, thankfulness, a sense of achievement, a sense of failure
- serving in the home office wishing someone would give you the opportunity to talk about your experiences of working ‘behind the scenes’
- changing roles within the organization or transitioning out for retirement or a different career
- simply wanting to connect with other like-minded people and to spend some time reflecting on your experiences
At these debriefing retreats you will meet others who understand the unique stressors and joys of missionary service. You will have the opportunity to reflect on your experiences, to consider the impact of events and relationships, to grieve the losses and disappointments, to explore the challenges of transition and to celebrate the successes. This will be done in the context of personal reflection in prayer and meditation, small group activities, and private conversations with a trained debriefer.
You will leave with new perspectives and understanding that will give you hope and renewed vision.
October 24-27, 2017. A residential retreat at Mount St Francis retreat centre just outside of Calgary.
At this retreat you will have the opportunity to get away from it all, and enjoy the beautiful location with its view of the Rocky Mountains. As a residential retreat there will be opportunity to get to know your fellow retreants and to share your stories in mutually encouraging ways over meals and free times, in addition to the group sessions. There will also be opportunity to spend time alone in the grounds reflecting, praying and enjoying God’s creation.
Cost: $575. This includes accommodation, meals, materials, and individual debriefs with an experienced debriefer. The retreat centre is very happy to accommodate any dietary restrictions you may have. The centre’s website states that the accommodation is single rooms, but we are happy to say that there are a number of double rooms (some with queen beds, some with two twin beds) for couples.
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The Value of Debriefing
Have you ever been blindsided by memories or emotions of an experience that happened years ago? Oi-Wah, one of the leaders of The Emmaus Journey knows that all too well. Let her tell you her story:
My husband and I spent 9 years on a mission field doing church planting work. It was a wonderful experience for the most part. However, toward the last year, tension had built up between fellow missionaries. Church members began to take sides; my husband and I felt it was time for us to move on. When the decision was made, there was such peace. We believed it was God’s timing and way to move us on. Yet, we left the field feeling heart broken and had a lot of unfinished explanations that we were not able to give to our church friends because we didn’t want to divide the church. That was 20 years ago.
Our mission agency didn’t have a Member Care department at the time. Debriefing was kind of like having a brief chat over lunch with the director. We never thought much about it. In another words, my husband and I were never debriefed to share our stories. I remember years later when I was talking about those experiences with a friend, tears streamed down my face as if I was telling about something that had just happened. I was caught by surprise by the impact.
Now I believe in the value of debriefing; I wish every missionary who has come home from his/her missionary assignment would have the opportunity to tell their stories to someone who cares to listen. A good debriefing time helps to validate what is done well and what needs to change. It is amazing how talking through our stories with a “debriefer” can sometimes help to make sense of the confusion that might be experienced. It also allows us to grieve the losses as we say goodbye to the experiences (good and bad) we left behind. It helps to see God’s presence in our stories and that He is still interested in guiding us forward. It may give us new energy and direction to follow God’s next plan and assignment. Healing is possible and comforting; and the outcome can give us reasons to celebrate what God is doing in and through us.
I resonate with Ruth Ann Graybill as she states, “Debriefing is a relational process in which the realities of the past and their impact are expressed and understood for the purpose of release, renewal, and moving forward.” It took me years to work through my experiences. I often wonder if my husband and I had an opportunity to be debriefed in those earlier days, how we would have been able to thrive better in our later ministries.
The retreat leaders are Hazel Mayhew of Beracah Counselling, and previously a member care worker with Wycliffe Bible Translators, and Oi‑Wah Whitbourne of Crossroad Counselling and a member care worker with Action International Ministries. We hope to have two other experienced missionary debriefers joining the leadership team and will include their details as soon as they have confirmed their availability.
Hazel Mayhew is originally from England and spent time in Kenya and Texas with Wycliffe Bible Translators before moving with her family to Canada to continue working in Personnel with Wycliffe. Her passion for helping cross-cultural workers maintain or regain emotional, spiritual and mental vitality led her to gain an MA in counselling and to obtain spiritual direction training. She is pleased to be able to offer these services, in addition to interviewing, debriefing, career counselling and mentoring, through her counselling practice, workshops and retreats, to help missionaries live healthy and productive lives in their unique settings.
To contact Hazel: email@example.com
Oi‑Wah Whitbourne and her husband have been missionaries with Action International Ministries for 30 years. Oi‑Wah, along with her husband, worked in the Philippines (9 years) and India (5 years); she is now the member care worker for their mission agency. Oi‑Wah is also a pastor’s wife, a counsellor, and a chaplain in the business world. Her passion is working with people and walking alongside those who need healing. She believes Christ is the Wonderful Counsellor and she is leaning on His guidance. She considers it a privilege to walk alongside missionaries in their debriefing process.
To contact Oi‑Wah: firstname.lastname@example.org