I often tell new missionaries leaving for their field of service not to call home for 30 days (except for a quick “I arrived safely” call). That statement usually gets some raised eyebrows, pouty faces and questions with a desire for clarification.
The first month on the field is critical as patterns set during the first month often continue throughout the missionary term or career. In our technological time, it is quite easy for missionaries to remain strongly connected with family and friends in their home country through phone calls, text messages, Facebook, Skype, and other means. Since those are established relationships, it becomes easy for the new missionaries to default to communicating with those back home during down time or challenging circumstances instead of building a new “local” support network and community. It is vital for the overall ministry for the new missionary’s roots to go deep.
The first month on any field is full of new experiences, challenges, surprises, and unmet expectations. When a new missionary communicates with family and friends back home, those on the other end of the conversation may have little understanding or ability to help. Often, their only answer may be to advise the new missionary to return home or to introduce negative attitudes about the new country. Missionaries need to rely on God, teammates, national believers, and others on the field as their main source of strength. Communication with friends and family back home is great but if it keeps the missionary from “putting down roots” in his new environment then the help can quickly become fatal to the missionary’s ministry.
So, call home upon arrival to let them know you made it, and that you’ll resume a more normal communication in 30 days. You’ll be glad you did.