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Bears and Blobs

By Amanda Clewis

Fear, excitement, interest, and alarm – this was the rush of emotions that I felt when I saw the black bear with a scruffy coat lumbering slowly in my direction. At the same moment that I wanted to reach out and touch its soft, mottled fur, I also had a strong sense to run in the other direction. The flood of contrasting feelings left me stuck – afraid to move away and afraid to move forward. I noticed a similar feeling when I considered the Blob – a huge inflatable pillow on a lake where one person jumping off a high platform sends another person catapulting into the water. I felt a combination of terror and exhilaration. I was afraid to climb the high platform but wanted to experience the thrill of being launched into the air. Both Bears and Blobs inspire a tremendous mix of emotions– intense fear and interest, adventure and danger, love for it, and dislike for it –all simultaneously.

This summer, I had the opportunity to serve at a Re-Entry Camp for Missionary Kids run by Interaction International. While at this mountain camp in Georgia, we encountered both Bears and Blobs and all the contradictory feelings that go with them. I realized that this dichotomy of emotion is the space where many Missionary Kids exist much of the time.

Missionary kids often don’t want to leave their home country and move to a new place, yet they feel curious and interested in this new adventure. They experience fear, excitement, grief, wonder, anger, joy – all simultaneously. Eventually, they start to love their new country but may feel guilty about it because they might be betraying their home country. Then it is time to travel for a furlough…more sadness, excitement, anxiety, grief, joy – all at the same time. For missionary kids, these frequent transitions between countries, cultures, and languages are the norm. As adults, we may have the skills to handle the intense emotions that accompany transitions, especially when we have made a conscious decision to serve the Lord overseas. Yet, kids don’t necessarily have all the tools to process this intense mix of contradictory emotions. They need our help, support, and understanding so that they don’t feel confused, alone, and stuck.

This is why Compass Ministries exists. We are here to support Missionaries and their children before they leave for the field, while they are serving overseas, and long after they return. We assist with Re-entry Camps, host Retreats, and offer Counseling, Coaching, Debriefings, Play Therapy, and Filial Therapy (training for parents). We have an in-person community for Adult Missionary Kids in the Tampa Bay area, and an Online Community called MK Connect. We have a house for Women who have lived overseas and are transitioning to life in the U.S.

If you have a missionary kid, try to see the world from their viewpoint. Every time they step on a plane, they face a huge mix of emotions – like wanting to hug a bear and run from it all simultaneously. Be there for them, help them process their emotions, listen to them, comfort them.

We ask that you please join us through your prayers and gifts as we seek to serve the Lord’s workers – AND their children - worldwide.

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