Day 1: Introduction {31 Days of Re-entry}

Re-entry for me was when life became like a rope that was forever being pulled from my hand–always moving and impossible to grasp.  In the past five years since leaving China and returning to the states, I got engaged and married, had two babies, lost a father-in-law, changed jobs twice and moved across the country. It’s been eleven months since our cross-country move and the rope is still in motion, though I’m beginning to hold it long enough to feel the texture of the coils in my hands.  And it doesn’t burn as much as it once did.

This series will be on the topic of re-entry, or reverse culture shock, but I hope you will find some solace, strength and hope for whatever transition you are experiencing.  Re-entry specifically describes the experience of living abroad or in another culture for any amount of time and then assimilating back into your “passport culture.” 

Re-entry is about being changed by your experience abroad, yet being expected to live the life you once lived in a culture in which you no longer fit. 

Disorienting and confusing, it is no wonder re-entry is analogous to a spaceship returning to earth from space. 

I first experienced reverse culture shock in high school after returning from an amazing summer camp experience in the hills of North Carolina.  I had no idea what was wrong with me.  My other experiences of it spanned 10 years and were after spending 6 months in Uganda, 5 weeks in Tajikistan and 5 years in China.  This series will mainly be about my return from China, including past journal entries about the themes, lessons and resources that have impacted me as I have attempted to process this experience.

I wrote this series in response to a challenge to write during the entire month of October, called Write 31 Days.  The table of contents is below.  Please visit multiple posts and leave comments–I’d love to hear about your experience and get to know you.  So glad you stopped by! 

Day 1: Introduction

Day 2: Grieving

Day 3: No One Is Special

Day 4: Wasted Gifts

Day 5: I Never Expected…

Day 6: Identity: Through the Looking Glass

Day 7: Did I mishear God?

Day 8: When You Feel Like Shutting Down

Day 9: Caring for your Dorothy

Day 10: You’re Not the Only One Who’s Changed

Day 11: 12 Race Day Lessons for Serving Overseas

Day 12: Confessions of an Experience Junkie

Day 13: Longing for Home

Day 14: Readjusting: Same Tools, Different Work Space

Day 15: Book Review: The Art of Coming Home

Day 16: The Story of My “Call”

Day 17: Is Missions a “Higher Calling”?

Day 18: And Then I Fell in Love

Day 19: Is God Calling You Overseas?

Day 20: Life Is Not Seasonal

Day 21: What I Took and What I Left Behind

Day 22: Groundless, Weightless, Homeless

Day 23: When the Nations Come to You

Day 24: The Call to Displacement

Day 25: Scripture Anchors for Re-Entry

Day 26: In the Place of Your Exile

Day 27: Resources for Re-entry

Day 28: A Time for Everything: A Prayer of Leaving

Day 29: Journal: 8 Months After Re-Entry

Day 30: 12 Survival Tips for Re-Entry

Day 31: A Blessing

(Day 32: Writing is Narcissistic (And Four Other Reasons Not to Write)–a reflection on this Write 31 Days experience)

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Linking up with Velvet Ashes

12 Replies to “Day 1: Introduction {31 Days of Re-entry}”

  1. Hi Leslie,
    I'm looking forward to following along. I have never been out of the country for more than a summer but I completely understand and relate to reverse culture shock. My heart lives in China although I am currently living in New Orleans. Can't wait to see how God uses this!

  2. I experienced pretty dramatic culture shock after re-entering America after living in SE Asia during my teen years…to the extent that, practically as soon as I could after college, I was back in Asia again. It's not easy, that's a fact. It's not easy to feel like you belong nowhere, but you do get used to it, in a way.

  3. Thanks for reading and sharing a bit of your experience! It is interesting how you find a happy medium when you live in two (or more cultures). The woman that did our cultural training and had lived in China for over 20 years described it as "flipping a switch" when she went between countries. Sometimes it is easier to just compartmentalize. Hope you keep following along!

  4. Wow, Leslie. I am so blessed by your posts. One of your blogs popped up on my friend's Facebook newsfeed and she sent me the link.
    I am currently wrapping up my six-month missions internship in Lima, Peru. With only 46 days left, so many thoughts and emotions come to mind.
    This is my first "missions trip" and first time traveling alone, it's been a crazy rollercoaster and the Lord's fingerprints have been on it all, the mountain tops and the valleys.
    I appreciate your words, I'm thankful to have been introduced to a blog like yours to gain some insight; you've put into words all the things I've been trying to say. I love your previous posts as well, I love the Lord's timing in allowing me to serve and experience international living while I'm still young and not committed to a husband or children. I know the remaining time will pass quickly, I am enjoying this season and seeking the Lord's heart for the next. Thank you for sharing your past experiences and allowing the Lord speak through you.

  5. Cassie, Thank you so much for your comment! I love that you know exactly how many days you have left;-) I can totally relate to that. My first extended time abroad was for 6 months in Uganda and I definitely was counting the days! (not that it was bad, it was just–well, you know, a lot!) I am so glad that you have this opportunity–even if you never go back, you will never be the same! And, YES to using singleness to pursue God on great and stretching adventures!

  6. "Re-entry is about being changed by your experience abroad, yet being expected to live the life you once lived in a culture in which you no longer fit. "
    oh so true! Thank you for this series of posts, Leslie!

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