In about six months we will be transitioning out of the Philippines, after living here 8 years, to the USA to resettle in Michigan.
The late Dave Pollock,an authority on third culture kids (TCKs), transitions and internationally mobile families, prepared very helpful transition materials including this tool to help missionaries and family members leave well.
Imagine building a raft lashing the following four "logs" together before making a transition - this applies not only to moving half way around the world, but any transition.
Reconciliation--Any time we face a move from one place to another, it's easy to deal with tensions in relationships by ignoring them. We think "I won't see these people again, so why bother trying to work out our differences?" When we refuse to resolve our interpersonal conflicts we ignore the whole process of closure and are unable to move on and build the rest of our RAFT.
We carry with us the mental baggage of unresolved problems. Old discontentment can interfere with starting new relationships. Reconciliation includes both the need to forgive and be forgiven. How that is done depends on many factors, but we have to be sure we are doing all we can do to reconcile any broken relationships before leaving.
Affirmation--Acknowledge that each person in our relationships matter. Do things like tell your coworkers how you have enjoyed working with them, your friends how important their friendship has been, give a note of appreciation to your neighbors for their kindness, reassure your parents and siblings of your love and respect and that you don't leave them lightly. Part of closure is acknowledging our blessings--both to rejoice in them and properly mourn their passing.
Farewells--Saying goodbye to people, places, pets, possessions in culturally appropriate ways is important if we don't want to have deep regrets later. We need to schedule time for these farewells during the last few days and weeks. Openly acknowledging this time as a true goodbye is important. If you have children, be sure you schedule time for them to say goodbye to these significant ones in their lives, as well.
Think Destination--Even as we are saying goodbye, we need to be thinking realistically about our destination. Where are we going? What are some positives and negatives we can expect to find once we get there? What are our external support structures and our internal resources for coping with the problems we might find? Who can help us adjust?
There is no way we can avoid the chaos and confusion of the transition process. We can keep in mind that it is normal, and that it will pass if we hang on long enough. Leaving right is a key to entering right.
Pray for our children and us as we build our r.a.f.t.'s.
--information taken from http://faithdlc.wordpress.com/2008/05/15/building-a-raft-before-a-transition/ - -