A friend and I had a discussion where she admitted believing that one loses friends as they age. Her statement moved me because I couldn’t commiserate.
I would have had similar feelings 5 years ago when my family first started our cross-cultural journey. We began our life overseas on a 10-month internship. It was just my family who worked with one woman already living in country. The work was good and there was a lot of it but I didn’t connect well with the woman we were working with. There were language barriers between her, the work, and me. I continue to be a learner of my third language.
As a habit, I would explore Instagram to find others in similar situations. I followed hashtags. The one that came up which made me curious was #velvetashes. Finding the website connected to the hashtag was life altering for me. I felt alone, but suddenly there was a world of women in similar situations to mine just a click away.
That spring, I filled in the application for connection groups, not fully understanding what it meant, but longing for just that: connection. It was an open door for me. The face-to-face Skype calls were lifegiving. One of the single women in the group gave me insight into our teammate. She encouraged me in my walk and directed my eyes to the correct place. We lifted each other’s concerns up to the Father. The other ladies put up with my kids running around in the background of the Skype call. All too quickly, the time came to an end.
Since then, I have been in 3 groups and led 3 more. I experienced Skype and Facebook groups. I enjoy aspects of each mode of communication, and both have their benefits and drawbacks.
Returning for long term work was a journey. The woman we originally partnered with retired. The only team we have in country is my family. We have made other outside friendships, which involve in-country friends as well as those from our passport country. I often struggle with a lack of teammates there to support what we do.
Spring and fall are occasions where I am blessed to have camaraderie. The Connection groups help provide support outside of the work my husband and I are involved in. It is focused time to improve relationships and it has allowed me space to grow. Being a leader and a participant are equally encouraging. The anonymity is an aspect of Connection groups that I appreciate. I can share in trust and confidence.
Connection groups are a key part of what keeps me “on the field”. They are integral in helping me accomplish and thrive in our host country. I often tell fellow friends and expats about the benefits of connection groups. Unlike my childhood bestie, my circle has grown exponentially. My comrades now span countries and time zones.
What has your experience with connection groups been like? How does it compare to working with a team? How does it differ?
Connection Group registration is just around the corner! Are you searching for camaraderie and connection while serving overseas, or after returning to your passport country? Are you a single wanting to connect with other singles, or a homeschooling mom or an empty nester wanting to share stories of what that’s like on the field? Or would you like to make friends around the world with women in different life seasons? We have lots of great group options ready and waiting for you!
Connection Groups meet through various online platforms so that you join right where you are. These platforms include Skype video chat groups that meet once a week at a designated time, Facebook Live Chat groups that interact through posts and comments in a private Facebook group at a set time each week, regular Facebook groups that interact throughout the week, email groups that connect through writing and a texting group that uses a messaging platform to interact through the week.
Head over to our Connection Group page to check out all the group options available for this fall session!
A few things to keep in mind:
- Please only register for one group. We want to keep as many spots open for people to participate as possible!
- As you think about your involvement over the coming ten weeks, please carefully choose a group that meets at a time you know will work for you each week, or choose a group without a set time. We want to honor your time as well as the investment of the facilitators and the other participants. Your steady involvement each week is so important when facilitating connection!