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Archives for : December2020

List of resources

Our members Hans-Georg & Margret Hoprich very kindly shared on our Facebook page this list of member care resources which they have compiled – click here to view it.

What resources could you usefully share with our members?

“I have learned I am not alone”

It could have been one of my own sentences, but this is a quote from a TCK who participated in one of our TCK groups as part of a two-year pilot project with 54 TCKs.

Returning to the passport country as a TCK is often a time of tough transition. Having met too many TCKs in a period of struggle, we decided to develop a group intervention based on three main theoretical principles:

  • Being part of a group with an atmosphere of the third culture, acceptance, and understanding can prevent children from failure to thrive.
  • Resilience can be built by helping children to comprehend the whole situation and giving them the capacity to use the resources available, as a sense of coherence in their life. Building on the work of Antonovsky, this capacity is a combination of the children’s ability to assess and understand the situation they are in, to find a meaning to move in a health promoting direction, and also having the capacity to do so—that is, comprehensibility, meaningfulness, and manageability, to use Antonovsky’s own terms.
  • Dealing with unresolved grief, the many goodbyes, and hidden grief as a dual-process, namely by oscillating between loss- and restoration-oriented griefwork, is helpful for the child in the first year of re-entry. It helps the child to adaptive coping to deal with both confrontation and avoidance of loss and restoration and to dose the grieving process. And it helps both the child and the parents by giving them words for the process and a way of speaking of and dealing with difficult emotions.

On these theoretical principles we made up a fictional TCK planet and together with the children we made up countries like family-land, missing-land, new friends-land, culture-land, goodbye-land etc. Each session we travelled together 2 adults and 8 TCKS to a specific land, and during the sessions we visited hidden emotions, played games that included mentalization and coping strategies, and – most important of all – the children travelled together, and learned they are not alone!

This very day we finished a research paper concluding on the results of the project (unfortunately in Danish). The results are very hopeful. It is effective and worth working with the children in a group setting, giving them hope, connecting TCKs, and giving them a secure base of a Third Culture while they are processing their re-entry. The quantitative and qualitative results are rather clear. Even though the problems and challenges did not disappear, the children began to thrive as if or maybe because they learned a new way of dealing with the problems, building up resilience, and finding a new way of dealing with or a language for speaking of grief and loss.

As early as after the first meeting with the TCK-group, he quieted down as if something finally was starting to fall into place. What made a difference, I think, was meeting other children with the exact same thoughts and experiences he has had who understood where he was or what he has been through.

(a parent)

TCK groups are now a free intervention for all families returning to Denmark, and I strongly recommend you wherever in the world you are located to begin the work of TCK re-entry groups, because it matters for the TCKs, their families – and it is one of the most meaningful engagements to be part of.

In the end of the project, some of the children together with some of the project members produced a re-entry plan for schools, churches, parents, and for the children. The children’s part is translated into English – and attached here. Feel free to use the material.

 

This month’s blogger is Maria Techow, a psychologist and Member Care worker in Denmark, who regularly does presentations at the European Member Care Consultation.

 

Step by step a dream comes true

Face your dream, pray and share it!  I think it was in 2012 when for the first time I put the dream about an “Intercultural Member Care Center” in Portugal in writing. I had always thought, it was just a crazy idea I´ve had, but then I met other people with a similar vision and we started to pray and dream together and got more serious about this.

Have the courage to dream big!  We desire for the center to be intercultural, interorganizational and self-sustaining. This requires lots of people and resources, as well as a big property and solid administration. Even though our main focus is on Portuguese speaking servants of God, we hope to receive people from all over the world and to be able to counsel them in their own heart language. We want to offer scholarships for those who are struggling financially and feel they cannot afford to take a break away from their ministry.

Look out for people who share your passion!  In 2012 we also started a Member Care Network in Portugal and soon came in contact with others who are passionate about caring for pastors, missionaries, Christian leaders and their families. We are promoting opportunities for physical, emotional and spiritual care for God´s servants as we share our resources and organize retreats for them.

Make your dream known!  The vision of the Intercultural Member Care Center was published on the internet for recruitment purposes and a variety of people from different countries showed interest in the project. Most people though, gave up when they found out the center still had to be created. But a small group of Brazilians, Americans, Portuguese and myself, a German, continued to pray for and talk about it frequently.

Never give up!  The Member Care Portugal team has experienced lots of ups and downs with several changes in the leadership, and more than half of the group experiencing early stages of burnout or other health issues, losses, change of ministry or location, or simply feeling overwhelmed with the challenges of an intercultural team. But, we have continued to practice member care in each of our organizations, tried to be an encouragement to one another, and even held several retreats together

Find your specific “Niche” (role/purpose)!  When I was asked where in the “big dream” I could see myself, it was obvious to me that I would not be the director or business manager. My gifting is in the area of counseling in an informal setting, as well as hospitality in helping people feel at home to start to decompress.

Follow your dream and start small!  While waiting for God to bring together a team and other resources for the Intercultural Member Care Center, some friends encouraged me to find a small house with three guestrooms and helped to get it ready to start using the gifts God has equipped me with. In 2017 We were able to inaugurate “ReCanto da Fonte” on the Silver Coast in Portugal.

Look for what God is already doing!  In 2019 we held a workshop through the Member Care Network with more than 20 people in attendance who were already involved in some kind of hospitality ministry for Gods servants. They serve in various smaller houses spread all over Portugal. It was a great opportunity to connect and share about our experiences. Today we can refer people to each other’s ministries according to the specific needs of each individual and the various services offered in each place.

Re-evaluate the needs!  Knowing there are about 11 houses in Portugal where people can stay, the question was raised if we still need a bigger center here. We believe that there is a reason for God to give this bigger vision to various people from different backgrounds. We need a place for Gods servants to not only rest and be restored, but where they can also experience a loving and caring community within which it is safe to share about their struggles and joys in ministry. Another important aspect is the need for a place to provide training in counseling, interpersonal and intercultural skills, as well as spiritual guidance and disciplines such as silent retreats.

Expect God to do the impossible!  Recently God miraculously brought another family to Portugal to join the team for the Intercultural Member Care Center. They have spent 6 years hoping and preparing to come here and could write a book about “God´s Waiting Room” including chapters about excitement, fundraising, grief and loss, temptation to give up and other personal struggles, hopes, adventures, delays due to Covid 19, goodbyes and wildfires as well as administrational “impossibilities”.

 

God did, God does and God will do the Impossible, including an Intercultural Member Care Center in Portugal.

 

This month’s blog is written by Amrei Wehmeyer, who has been working with DMG interpersonal and TEAM in Portugal since 1991. She is currently leading the Member Care Center ReCanto da Fonte in Lourinhã on the Silver Coast of Portugal.  For more information write to recantodafonte@gmail.com

 

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