Allison, Cole, and I recently arrived home to the U.S. for our annual furlough. It is a necessary but enjoyable time when we reconnect with family and report to congregations that work with us in Cusco. Thanks to the generosity and understanding of our overseeing church, we are able to make this trip on a regular basis.
So, what do we do on furlough? Each year, before heading to the airport, the Peruvians pat me on the back and say in all sincerity: “enjoy your month-long vacation”. They usually don’t say this with envy since it is customary for them to take a month-long vacation. However, if it is not a month-long vacation, then what do we do?
We get together with family. As long term missionaries, we are not able to see parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews until furlough. Usually, I meet a new niece or nephew every furlough. Cole has a great time getting to know his grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins better. It is a huge blessing to see family during this time of the year.
We visit and report to supporting congregations. We truly see our mission work as a partnership with these congregations, and so we want to keep them informed and continue to build strong friendships. The odds are that you, the reader, support the work through your local church. If this is the case, we thank you for your work in Cusco. We spend much of our time visiting these churches; I am speaking eight times during our furlough this year.
We take care of tasks we can’t do outside the U.S. For example, this year we’re renewing documents, buying items for the expected twins, and purchasing materials for the church in Peru. We have one shot to take care of these tasks, and so I usually have a to-do list when I arrive to the States.
We continue to work for the church in Peru. Furlough is valuable time, without the immediate distractions, to accomplish tasks that will benefit the local church in Cusco. In the past, we’ve written seminars, Bible class material, and gathered curriculum. Spending time to do these tasks keeps us ahead of the game when we arrive back in Peru.
These are the major activities of our furlough. It is an important month that is necessary for the overall annual cycle. Without furlough, I’m convinced that the missionary would fight the problems of exhaustion, feeling unprepared, and loneliness.