Sabbatical year

Who knew we would need a RAFT to get to Spain?

mk puppets
The mission kids (MKs) after their puppet show at Cross Training.

So we are nearly through with our Cross Training (I always have to think about this so I don’t say Cross Fit) at the headquarters of the One Mission Society in Greenwood, IN. The training has been wonderful and covered a wide range of topics. We have worked through personality types, what behaviors we use when we are stressed, our interpersonal skills, our team styles, physical health, mental health, spiritual warfare, theology, evangelism, church planting practices, and others… phew. And we still have three days to go.

All of the information has been good and helpful in preparing us before going into other cultures and working with missionary teams. One topic that stuck out the most, however, was the concept of “leaving well.” In order to really leave well, we needed to build a RAFT (a great tool from Interaction International). This gave us some helpful things to focus on, and I think it would be helpful to anyone preparing for any form of leaving (a job, a country, even loved ones near death).

Reconciliation — Making sure to take time to extend the hand of peace to anyone that you felt a rift with. This applies to those with whom the rift began several years ago or recently. Even though you may be physically leaving this place, the wounds carried with unreconciled relationships will be a drain and a distraction from afar. Cracks in the heart will become canyons in a new place and environment. Even more important is that forgiveness — true forgiveness — is not optional in the Christian life. Christ forgives us as we forgive others.

Affirmation — Take time to affirm those who have meant something to you. Write a note, make a call, give a hug. Don’t leave without those people knowing that they have been a blessing to you. The encouragement that was poured into you can be returned so that it may be given to others in turn. Another side of affirmation is to notice and encourage gifts that others may either not recognize or have no confidence in. These may be gifts of encouragement, leadership, or potential, which need only to be spotlighted in order to shine.

Farewell — It’s important to have proper time allocated to farewells. Time needs to be taken to allow for closure. It is sometimes awkward but very necessary to give proper farewells. Don’t limit it to people. Places, pets, and things are also things that need to be given a proper farewell. Take pictures, take a moment, make a blessing over it.

Think Destination — In order to really leave well, you have to be preparing for the situation you will be entering with whatever knowledge you have. What are the expectations for the people, culture, or daily life in this new place? Are there hidden expectations? What will happen if those expectations aren’t met?

We took a final trip back to Lexington for the kids (with cousins) to play a big role in Ashley & Elijah's wedding.
We took a final trip back to Lexington for the kids (with cousins) to play a big role in Ashley & Elijah’s wedding.

I’m not a person who loves acronyms. I think it’s maybe that my work uses them ad nauseam. Despite my jaded past, I like this acronym. I think I like it because it is freeing. It’s a first step in freedom from past hurts. It allows for leaving the past location with encouragement to be the best people or group that they/it can be. There’s intentional space for adequate goodbyes. And it encourages you to process the future. I think it’s a tangible guide to making any transition better, whether leaving for missionary work, moving homes, changing jobs, or even for preparing for the end of our earthly lives.

Before we even heard about this concept of ‘leaving well,’ we felt we had done well with the farewells to people and the affirmations. The other concepts we wanted to make sure we considered before we left. The area we lacked the most was encouraging our kids to go through these steps. We had been so excited that they were excited that we didn’t want to draw their attention to things they may find sad or make them focus on the things they were going to miss. How wrong we were! Children have the need to go through the process just like adults. Luckily, we were going to be in Lexington one last time for a family wedding before our flight to Spain. We asked the kids about people or places or things that they felt they needed to say goodbye to before we left. We drove by our house and said a blessing. We played one last time at “the blue park” with one of Ella’s friends from kindergarten. We blessed Ella’s school, the twins’ school, the church, their grandparents’ house, and the Chick-fil-A on Nicholasville Rd. It felt good. The kids were better involved in the process of our family being able to leave Lexington well so that we could fully be free for the service to which God has called our family in Spain.

We’ll be saying our final farewells this weekend in Louisville, and then we’ll be on a plane Sunday night. Please keep us in your prayers for the journey and for those last steps in leaving well.

6 replies on “Who knew we would need a RAFT to get to Spain?”

This is good not only for those going into the mission field but for pastors going from one appointment to another.

Things are shaping up nicely in getting your house ready. Y’all come on. We are anticipating a joyous season of fellowship and friendship. Blessings on you.

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