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Depression after a missions trip

Does anyone else ever face this but me?  Evidently so because I just Googled it today and found that it happens to others.  I know many have trouble with re-entry into the USA in dealing with how much we are blessed vs. the poverty they just experienced.  I feel that of course, and more than just after a trip.  Africa has gotten so into my heart that it's something I face on a regular basis.

My husband asked me yesterday, "how much MORE can you possibly SLEEP?"  I told him that he doesn't really understand the difficulty of the upside down schedule, first of all.  Turning it right side up when your days have been nights for a week is not easy.  Second, even with that I hardly sleep while I'm actually over there.  I am so keyed up about everything I can hardly let down.  The more I go to Africa the more excited I get, not the other way around.  It never becomes "old hat" to me.  Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night there just to stare out the window at the rain and listen to the birds.  I take in every last moment that I can.  Yes, I try to shut down and rest while there but it's proven very difficult.  I am more amazed by the place each time I go.

Third, the emotional and spiritual energy expended for me is really indescribable, especially preaching six services back to back will full altar services that last a long time.  Some of the services there go on FOREVER.  Becca was amazed.  Not that I didn't warn her.  I've been in a six hour service there!  No kidding.  Then there is saying goodbye to those I love -- I don't ever think there's anything good about a goodbye.    And finally, the 30 hour trip home.  "Didn't you sleep on the plane?" my husband says.  Well, yes, I did do some of that, but consider that you are sleeping upright in a very uncomfortable small seat and being interrupted constantly by announcements over an intercom or someone needing to go potty, or other stuff.  It's not exactly good sleep.  Add to that -- I don't like to fly and sort of pray my way through!  All of this blended together is rather overwhelming.  But I'd go through it again and again to be there.   With all of this said, I'm not complaining, just EXPLAINING.

So since coming home... I craved a bath and had to clean the bathroom first to do that.  It took me about an hour to scrub it down and then I bathed and have since stayed in bed since Wednesday night.  Haven't answered email or the phone, and have slept the majority of the time.  I ate whatever Larry happened to feed me since Wed night which up til' this morning consisted of a McDonalds meal one time, and the other time a bowl of chicken soup.  I finally decided I needed something more this morning so I got up and fixed myself  some banana blueberry pancakes which are my favorite, as well as hot tea.  I made some plain pancakes for Savanna because that's the way she likes them. 

I'm feeling more rested now, and was hoping my spirits would lift too.  Part of the reason I haven't returned any calls or texts up til now is that despite what God did I have just felt low.   Fried.  Like I have nothing to offer.  I know that sounds strange because there's so much to say, but I guess after the huge adreneline rush I sort of bottomed out.   I've given myself permission to ease back into life although some may not understand it, sometimes you just have to do what's best for you.   I'm taking the advice of Marsha Woolley, our district WM director and a dear friend...she was raised in Africa on the missionfield and well understands all that I'm talking about here.  On my facebook she left this comment a few days ago:  "We're so happy you are back. Just take time to rest not just your body but your heart. It's so hard to come back. I remember one time when I came back I was coming up the escalator in Atlanta and a pastor that was with me said 'we're back to the real world,' and I said 'no, we're back to fantasy land, where we've been is the real world!'"

Church is tomorrow as well as beach day and water baptism following that, so I will have to get into a little higher gear here in the next 24 hours.  I'm moving a little faster today...and hope to have my happy face on tomorrow at Celebration

Comments

Anonymous said…
So glad you are back. You've been in my thoughts and prayers. You are not alone in the depression. My brother, a former missionary to Africa and now ministering in Indonesia with his family, deals with this everytime they return to the states. It takes him months to once again become used to the luxuries of the states....like pure tap water. And about the time he is used to life in the states, it is time to return to the field. The burden you have for Africa is precious. I am so happy that you share your experiences with your readers.
Ruth
Leanne said…
I think even beyond the fact that we have so much here in the U.S. [I still cannot think of anyone here as "poor" after visiting the tin shacks in Monterrey, Mexico at age 14!], it's also because we have had life-altering spiritual experiences, and everyone back home is just...living their life as usual. My husband's and my best friends truly became our best friends after we went on a missions trip together, because once we got home, no one else wanted to hear us go on ad nauseum about everything we had experienced...but we needed to talk about it, and remind ourselves that we really had gone. I totally hear ya [and mine was only to work with a home missions church :o)]!!
Anonymous said…
I so do understand completely. I remember the first time I went to Guatemala in 91 with a team of 17 from our church. God moved, the people were so hungry for God. There was such many poor...living near the garbage dumps just to get food.
But when I came home and drove my car from church to home, I just sat behind the wheel and wept. And only those who had gone on the trip had fully understood what I was feeling.
So, with all that said, you will be in my prayers! Deborah

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