How to enjoy Relay Homestart

Around this time a few years ago I was getting ready to go on my next adventure by doing Relay Homestart in Peru. I know all the feelings of being excited, nervous, unsure, insecure, scared, happy, sad to leave friends etc… with a million emotions all in one I knew I would be boarding that plane soon with no language skills and no real understanding of what it means to live in a different culture and really no idea of what I was really doing. So as I am guessing that some of you will be feeling these things at some point, I want to write a quick guide on how to enjoy and make the most of Relay Homestart and also short term mission – whether that’s in Europe or China or South America…

  1. Pray and continue praying – this may sound like a given. But we are sinful creatures that like to draw upon Gods help at the start and then when we get use to the culture and the language, suddenly God can be out the picture. Don’t be complacent, continue praying and bring everything to God
  2. Don’t expect it to be like Relay – On Relay you had amazing support every week, you had theology to read, students to meet up with and conferences to build fellowship. But its all different on homestart, don’t expect it to be like Relay at all – you may not get weekly support and it will take you a while before you can speak the language enough to be able to meet up with students one to one. This wont be like fitting on a glove. You are not the star relay worker in your university spouting Grace and Grudem. Your the foreigner that cant speak the language. But there are lots of advantages for it not being like Relay and you will find them out.
  3. Jump into the culture – The Culture your going into is different and can seem scary and you may get culture shock. The only way I dealt with this is by not shutting myself away but being apart of the lives of others in the culture. I was living with a family and so I joined in on everything the family was doing – watching TV with them, going to church events, going shopping with them etc…although I couldn’t speak Spanish, my actions and my time shared with them proved to be shouting louder then words. So join a youth group or prayer group, join in with a family, be with different people and don’t just hang out with English speaking people. Also try and eat everything or at least a bite – it shows your willing to try things.

  4. Don’t live on Facebook – Its very tempting to hide yourself away on facebook everyday. My suggestion is to not touch facebook for the first month – your friends will understand. Its more important that you get to know people where you are living then keep updated on the facebook feed. Your relationships where you are will be better off.

  5. Enjoy the Differences – everything will be different – smells, food, people, clothes… but don’t be cynical – its easy to believe that the English culture is always right, but you will see that its not and there is so much to learn in the differences. At times it will be frustrating, but as much as you can enjoy the differences – don’t complain about them to other people, but let your words be encouraging and pure.

  6. Your Identity is in Jesus – This is a huge lesson I learned. It is very easy to place your worth and Identity in everything but Jesus. You will want to place it in your language skills or how many one to ones you have or what you are doing compared to everyone else. But quickly you will see that when you place your worth in those things you will fall apart because they will not stand up – your language will fail, you will find yourself at times doing nothing or not knowing what to do! But Jesus will always remain and if your identity is in Him you will not fall and he will never fail you. Ever.

  7. Don’t expect to stay in touch with everyone – Some people are good at keeping in touch, some are not. Some will be annoyed that you are not emailing them everyday. The truth is, is that you wont have time to be keeping in touch with everyone and that’s a reality that you will have to not feel guilty about.

  8. Read your bible – Keep yourself in the word even if you don’t have a routine. You will find that church wont be a place where you can get either teaching you understand or teaching that’s going to feed you. But the Word of God will feed you. Keep in his word, enjoy His word, Delight in his Word, Weep over His Word and Rejoice that you have the Word of God in your hands.

  9. Be prepared for crazy emotions – At times you will find yourself so happy your skipping down the road and then the next moment you are crying. You will feel alone and then very loved. This is normal, so don’t worry. But remember your emotions are not reliable – but God is. Your emotions go up and down but God stays the same. God is still God. That is a good truth to hold on to. Don’t be subject to your emotions, but know that God uses you in your weakness and when you are alone, you are actually very close to Jesus.

  10. Love – Love the people, love the fruit lady, love your team mates, love other missionaries, love the crazy drunk man on the street, love the unlovable, love Jesus and do everything in Love. And enjoy every moment.
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8 thoughts on “How to enjoy Relay Homestart

  1. Wow. Very real.

    Found your post through the NewfrontiersBloggers site…

    I can relate to much of what you’ve said and I’m not even on Relay Homestart, just living and serving and working in another country! So much of what you’ve written is exactly how I feel.

    Very true, very real, very helpful.

    • Thanks for your comment Tom! I am glad my post was helpful. Are you in that country for a long time or is it more short term mission? Cat

      • For me it feels long!
        Been here in Mexico for 10 months now, and will have at least another year – maybe more!
        It’s an Aventura!

      • I can totally understand. Make sure that your friends send you things to remind you of home – chocolate, tea, photos etc. That really helped me.

        And you know even if you feel like a failure and you feel weak, ill and just rubbish – its always in those times that God is changing you and using you. But I only realised that when I came home and looked back on my time in Peru!

        Btw, out of interest you’re not from Plymouth are you? We sent out a guy called Tom from Waterfront Church to Mexico! It will be funny if you are the same guy!

        Anyways, enjoy your time in Mexico 🙂

      • Thanks.

        Yeah, I’m THAT Tom – from Plymouth. I sometimes check Newfrontiersbloggers, and occasionally read the bloggers that are near or around the south west region, or that have interesting titles (as this did!). Life in another country is definitely an adventure, and your post is definite a helpful and true representation of what it’s like.

        Hope all is well in Waterfront and Plymouth (and the CU) – I’ve been away over 10 months now (can’t believe how quick the time has gone!).

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