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Community in 2020

In February we had the privilege of going to the first ever all Asia-Pacific conference for our organization. We went early so that Kacie could get in on some training for the member care facilitators, as she is the member care facilitator for our team. In talking with others it became obvious that at least for Asia-Pacific, our team is the most culturally isolated of all the areas. There are other small teams, but they are in places with other expats or English speakers. There are other people in isolated areas, but they have decent-sized teams. We'd seen the impact of the intensity of our isolation on our team, but understanding how unique our experience is really helped us address it specifically and make a plan in response.

If we are uniquely isolated, we should either find a way to not be isolated, or find ways to mitigate the impact of the isolation. Well, we are trying to get teammates back in the country, but visa difficulties are out of our control. Since this is the situation we are in for the time being, we resolved to really press into our local community. We know that people form relationships with those that are easy to form relationships with, which is why those cross-culture relationships are hardest to deepen. It takes longer and it takes more intentionality. We wanted to be intentional. We made specific plans for which groups to press into that provide the most intimate conversation, so that we could really work to develop deeper friendships. And secondly, we would work to more frequently leave our city and visit other areas where we would have rest and opportunities to connect relationally with those from our own culture.

And then, the very next month after making this plan, COVID hit. Borders shut down, travel shut down, small groups shut down, and social distancing and stay at home orders went into play. Our plans to mitigate the effects of isolation was a miserable fail this year. It was easier to handle in some ways because we know isolation was a struggle the world over. Everyone was relying on video calling, which was already our habit. So many people had to homeschool, which we've always had to do. So, we're all in it together.

We've felt the loss of the the intimacy of our home fellowships that haven't happened this year, but we've gained a deepened connection with neighbors, as we've been locked down on our campus several times. Our team, spread across this island and back in the USA, has begun meeting via zoom. And God, in His grace, has met us in the difficulties and helped us when we were lonely.

It will be strange to experience bits of reopening in 2021 and then leave for our home assignment. When we return it will have been nearly two years away from normal social life here, and we will feel in some ways like we are restarting. The joyful thing about that will be that it should be a restart with co-workers who will have built a house within walking distance of us. Our plan is for our kids to be able to play together freely and combine some school activities, easing the social isolation of being homeshcoolers in a cross-cultural situation. That's super exciting for us! And we know that having been here through the pandemic is something we will have shared with all our friends here, another tie that binds us to this as our home.


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