Every year at least 5,000 missionaries leave the field unnecessarily because of excessive stress involving personal, family, social, and ministry-related problems. Those remaining on the field face life stressors at least 2-3 times those experienced by individuals at home in the United States.
The Holmes-Rahe Scale is one way health professionals measure stress in people's lives. The basic idea is that a certain number of life events can build up the level of our stress until it gets dangerous. In the original study, they found that if you reached a level of 200 on the scale in a year, the cumulative stress would have consequences for some time to come.
In 1999, Drs Lois and Larry Dodds (of Heartstream Resources) were studying the levels of stress on the mission field, using a modified version of the Holmes-Rahe Scale. They wanted to find out what the typical missionary went through.
The news wasn't good. The typical missionary had not just peaking levels above 300, they had sustained levels over 300 year after year. The Dodds found that the average missionary's stress levels for the first year are typically around 800-900, and the sustained stress levels of a cross cultural worker stays around 600.
When stress levels reach above a 200, doctors will advise patients to make life changes- drink a glass of wine, exercise, sleep more, that kind of thing. The goal is to keep stress levels below 200, since anything over that can result in some incredibly negative effects, especially over the long term.
We've been proactively dealing with stress by
-Having daily family devotions.
-Maintaining healthy diets.
-Trying to be strategic with our ministry.
-And building margin into our schedules.
We find encouragement in knowing that you are praying for us and encouraging us.
Following God's call to the Philippines, to caring for James and Jerard, has been worth the stress. Yet, even hardened soldiers on the battle field need restoration and time out of the battle.
My Holmes-Rae score has typically been over 400 points a year. Some years it has been 600. And we've been on the mission field 7 years with no furlough yet due to the adoption of James.
It's time now for me to speak honestly of this.
I've been dealing with depression and am in need of getting back to the states. Shame has kept me quiet on this subject, but I need to bring it to the open now.
Our mission organization has been working with us to keep us on the field due to the ongoing adoption but it has now been decided that I will return to the states in July as planned with Mikayla and Kirsten to get some counseling. The plan is I will return to the Philippines in September for a couple weeks for James' adoption court hearing, return to the states for a couple months, then return to the Philippines for a couple weeks in December to bring Kirsten and Ben back to the states. Kurt will stay here with James while final travel papers are completed so James can come to the states. We hope to be all together as a family again in the states February or March of 2014.
Pray for us during all this transition we are facing.