What IJM Orientation Taught Me

Give it 3 months. 3 months to settle in, to get used to the creaks and sounds of the town. 3 months meet people and know them: know their children and their stories. And then you feel like you’ve come to know them… dig deeper. That will be the thing I will naturally fight against all year, but it will provide context and reasoning, and evoke empathy in a way that I wouldn’t have without digging deeper. 
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Injustice is EVERYONE’S problem. While there are places where justice systems are properly functioning and large swaths of the population are not being violently oppressed by an unchallenged power structure, there are places where that is not the case.
Imagine a world where the moment your husband dies, you not only lose your partner, but you also lose your home, your land, your business, your way to provide for your children, and your safety. That is what widows face everyday in Uganda because the justice system is not set up to support their needs when they are no longer supported by their husband.
There is a need for someone to have the difficult conversations, hold people accountable for their actions, and seek justice for those who have no voice. IJM is a player in a major story and they are seeking to bring about transformations that will support future marginalized people so that this chain of oppression and violence can be broken.
Community is E  V  E  R  Y  T  H  I  N  G

Homesickness is inevitable. The decision to leave home for a foreign place, no matter how passionate you are about the work,  does not change human nature. Everyone has a desire to be comfortable and to be known. I will not be doing this in a vacuum, I will be working with a team of 20 who are working toward our common goal. My new community will be made up of  short term expatriates (2-12 months), long-term permanent expatriates (12m- TBD), and Ugandan nationals. 

I have no false illusion that my personality (as glorious as it is) will mesh well with everyone on the team. Somehow the opinionated, direct, crass, and curious in me found an AMAZING tribe stateside. And while I know that lightning rarely strikes twice, I expect that God has something pretty amazing up His sleeve

Preliminary opinions of the team I’ve been placed in is that they’re kind of amazing. I’m excited to do life with them in a totally foreign (to me) way. And when the longing for home creeps in, I will remember words of John Cheever and lean into the longing:  “Homesickness is absolutely nothing. Fifty percent of the people in the world are homesick all the time. You don’t really long for another country. You long for something in yourself that you don’t have, or haven’t been able to find.

Comparison is the thief of all JOY 

Man— Theodore Roosevelt  was right. I had this very beautiful moment followed by a VERY humbling one during my training in DC. Walking into Day 1 of training at HQ, I was on cloud 9 being among some of the greatest champions of justice on the planet. I was eager to glean wisdom and advice from their sessions and walk into the field more equipped then when I’d been selected. Not shortly after, there were instances when people were providing their credentials that lead them to the positions they were filling and I felt myself shrinking inside myself emotionally and (by the end of Day 1) physically.

The combination of awe and feelings of inadequacy were a toxic combination that could have ruined the entire orientation/training week.Luckily, I was staying with a fellow trainee and a former field fellow. Their nightly debriefs were like a salve to my battered ego. And then I remembered Galatians 1:10:Am I now trying to win the favor and approval of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please someone? If I were still trying to be popular with men, I would not be a [servant] of Christ.

Front line Soldiers. Refugees. Polyglots. Professors. Lawyers. Stay at home moms. Students. Lifeline Missionaries. ACTUAL rocket scientists. Pastors.Veterans. Theologians. Government Officials. World Travelers. Come one, come all. What a blessing it is to be apart of this team. When I stopped navel-gazing long enough to see the amazing people in the room, I couldn’t learn enough about each of them. I am so excited to see how each of these 77 world changers leaves their impact.

Spiritual Disciplines will be your roots

One of IJM’s 3 principles is that they are a Christian organization and they make sure that Jesus is at the center of every single day. The work done in each of the IJM offices is NOT easy work. It is generally very heavy and can seep into your spirit easily. Rooting yourself in Biblical truth each day is a great way to battle the darkness.  In stillness each morning,  we are given the opportunity to stop, and spiritually prepare for the day ahead. Whether that is through devotionals, silent prayer & meditation, worship music, or journaling, each IJM employee around the world starts their workday still. 

Corporate prayer is another part of the spiritual foundation  of IJM. Gathering together to pray for the needs in our community reminds us that the work we do is bigger than our capabilities and needs to be turned over to something greater than us. Also, hearing the stories from each of the other teams and other offices reminds us to press on because there is a whole world that deserves justice. 

When so many things in your life are different in the field, prayer is constant. Jesus is constant. It is so simple to turn to him and ask for the things you need. To be a part of an organization that builds these disciplines into the workday helps me to never lose site of who I am and whose I am in the grand scheme of things. 

face 2

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do- Helen Keller

I don’t know if I will only be with IJM for this year, but I do not  take for granted the blessing that my role with them is going to be on my life and hopefully the lives of all those that I come into contact with. I’m excited to get this journey started as soon as possible. 

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