More than 20 students and six leaders from all world regions gathered for five days on an Asia-Pacific island for Rendezvous 2019, an event to help missionary kids talk about the challenges of transitioning from the missions field back to their home countries.
“Sometimes you need space away from your familiar surroundings and regular routine to have a transformative experience,” said Olivia Metcalf, a Rendezvous leader. “God can meet us anywhere, but intentional getaways create a unique opportunity for God to speak. Rendezvous provides this kind of opportunity for high school-aged students who are living outside of their passport countries.”
Through interactive workshops and activities, students received tools to help them process current experiences as well as those they will have when they transition. Workshop topics included culture shock, conflict resolution, and relationships and vulnerability.
One evening the students were challenged in a “skills-a-thon” where they learned basic skills like ironing a shirt, sewing on a button, and even paying bills to encourage independence.
The students also engaged in self-awareness coaching where each student sat down with a coach to talk about how God has uniquely created them to handle life’s challenges.
“I’ve learned that I am not alone in my transitioning,” said Lydia Sunberg, event participant. “I have met so many others who understand me and who are dealing with the same struggles as I am. It’s a good feeling to feel known, loved, and valued.”
Participants also played in competitive activities like beach volleyball, soccer, ultimate frisbee, and other team building games to encourage teamwork and to have fun. Though many participants hadn’t played these sports before and were not confident in their athletic abilities, each student did their best to step out of their comfort zones.
“Having fun together is crucial to the success of Rendezvous,” Metcalf said. “These different opportunities provided a way for trust and bonding to occur.”
The students worshiped in evening sessions that that centered around the “masks” the students wear — a metaphor for the inauthentic images they may be portraying. Each student was given a cardboard mask and invited to reflect on what sort of masks they may be wearing. After confronting this question through prayer, the students walked to the bonfire to burn the masks. The words “you are beautifully and wonderfully made” were spoken over the students as they cast their masks into the flames.
“What an amazing week this has been,” Sunberg said. “God has been moving and working, and that is so exciting. I’ve learned so many things to ease my future transitions — what to expect while in culture shock, ways to deal with conflict, the fact that it’s okay to ask for help…Transition is hard, but this event has provided me with hope that I can get through it.”