It’s an exciting day at Velvet Ashes. Registration is now open for our Spring Connection Groups! Kristina Krauss is here to share with us her experience with her Connection Group this past fall…
Greetings ladies! I would like to take a moment to share with you how much the Connection Groups have meant to me. I’m grateful to the leadership team at Velvet Ashes for the time spent to set the groups up. I may not have noticed before as it snuck up on me, but my group has been life-changing for me.
I’m a long-term cross-cultural worker and I remember the days before internet and cell phones. We lived in a small town in Mexico with only one phone in our town. We had to walk down to the small store, pay money, and make a call. It cost a lot and was painful to catch people back in the states in a good moment for a visit.
I didn’t make the transition to the modern world very well. I now have a phone plan in my home and it is free to call the states. I don’t use it, though, as I have great internet and Skype on my laptop. The problem is, when I tried to connect with friends back in the States, I was so disconnected from life up there, schedules, etiquette for “visiting appointments” that I didn’t succeed in starting up visiting long-distance. I tried a few times, but had my feelings hurt by what felt like a lack of interest and friends not willing to spend the time with me. I didn’t know how to work around their schedules.
Here I have all the technology to connect with friends and family from home, but haven’t been able to pull it off. So I Skype with my husband when I make trips for teacher training conferences. That’s it.
This summer I had a counseling appointment, where member care said I was headed for serious trouble. I have a stressful job, I have been isolated for too long, and I now have two stress-induced long-term illnesses. She told me I needed to find some English company and make it a priority, as well as take some time off.
I live near Mexico City, so there should be some English-speaking Christian communities somewhere. I looked and looked, but didn’t find anything.
Then I went online and found Velvet Ashes, reading the posts and commenting as much as I could. I signed up for a connection group last fall. It’s interesting to meet online with five other ladies I have never met and try to get to know them just with voices on Skype. I have to admit, at first it was hard to open up with them. But in just a few short weeks, I’m dumping way too much stuff on them already! Jajajaja (Giggling in Spanish).
So I had a great time this fall in my connection group, and I enjoyed getting to know our leader and the group of lovely ladies: Michelle, Sarah, Raquel, and Alex. I don’t know why, but I ended up crying on occasions. Maybe it was a release, or maybe it’s just joy to finally have broken through the silence to find people to talk to. I talk with Mexicans here, and our little group of gringos (we are 7 now!), but I have felt so isolated for so long.
There is another joy, too. As the groups were coming to a close, I contacted a great friend from my hometown and church, and initiated a “weekly one-hour Skype visit.” She accepted and we have begun visiting for an hour every Wednesday. She told me Wednesdays have become her favorite days because of our visit! The truth is, people in America do care. We have just become so disconnected that they don’t know how to approach me either.
My connection group has been fabulous for me; it felt like having a real visit with friends every Wednesday as I took the day off from work to visit with the girls and relax. The connection group showed me a system where I could connect with people in another country. Because of them, I tried this same system with my friend from home and it is working! She is excited, and so am I.
Thank you, ladies. Thank you for pouring into me and taking the time to visit with me. Thank you for letting me share my deep burdens with you, and for showing me how to connect again. And thank you, Velvet Ashes, for making it happen.
Has it been easier or harder than you expected to find deep community where you are? Have you wrestled with feeling isolated? Disconnected from your home culture?
Does a Connection Group sound like something you need? Would you like a group of other cross-cultural women to share with each week? Women who can relate to your cross-cultural lives? (We have re-entry groups too!)
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