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Burn-Up or Splash Down: Surviving the Culture Shock of Re-entry by Marion Knell

Knell states the purpose of Burn-Up or Splash Down to be to "help people plan for departure, develop coping strategies, and unpack the experience of living overseas," and she more than fulfils this goal in her excellent guide to re-entry, which is split into three sections. The first section provides descriptions of re-entry and re-entry stress, gives coping strategies for dealing with re-entry stress, offers tips on preparing for your return and on getting re-established in your passport country, and examines the importance and benefits of debriefing. The second section is written directly to Third Culture Kids (primarily in the teen years), describing what it is to be a TCK (the advantages and the challenges), helping TCKs unpack their experiences, and giving practical tips for thriving in a cross-cultural identity. The final section is directed to those who will form the support team for a returning missionary, explaining how they can effectively aid the returnee in their re-entry into their passport culture and giving a wealth of specific tips and suggestions.

Returning Well: Your Guide to Thriving Back "Home" After Serving Cross-Culturally by Melissa Chaplin

An invaluable resource for those who cannot attend a debriefing retreat, Returning Well walks a returning missionary through the process of processing their overseas experiences, leading one to hear from Him "words of truth, understanding, wisdom, healing, and calling - words that will propel you into a revitalised future." Part One gives a basic background on debriefing and how to prepare for the work involved, along with instructions on choosing a companion with whom to process your reflections. Part Two, the main portion of the text, is in workbook format, containing questions to help you process your experiences and what you can learn from them. Topics include initial transition into and adapting to the host culture; stress, adversity, and traumatic experiences; relationships and goodbyes; re-integrating, re-adjusting, and re-connecting into the primary culture; finding closure; and single-life, married-life, and parenting. The final section walks the reader through reviewing the main insights from Part Two and applying what is learned in order to create concrete goals to reach a place of renewal.

The Reentry Team: Caring for Your Returning Missionaries by Neal Pirolo

Written with the sending church as the main audience, The Reentry Team, an essential guide for receiving missionaries well, is divided into three sections. Pirolo begins by explaining the need for a cooperative relationship between a sending church and the missions agency, describing the scriptural foundation for a church to receive its missionaries well, and delineating the main areas of concern that can complicate the re-entry process. The bulk of the book contains the re-entry stories of missionaries, which are examined in light of the issues of re-entry that had been described in section one. The final section contains a series of articles and a list of resources on re-entry.

Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service by Amy Young

With a focus on preparations prior to a transition, Young addresses issues dealt with in all transitions - going to the field, going on furlough, returning to one's passport country. She discusses effects of stress in finishing well and dealing with transition and how to manage the stress by staying rooted in Christ, finding humor in otherwise awkward situations, accepting that transition will be physically and emotionally messy, embracing life in the midst of the mess, having a plan while being able to adapt to the unpredictable, remembering that your transition affects other people too, and managing your grief in healthy ways.

Re-Entry: Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home by Peter Jordan

In Re-Entry Jordan endeavors to help people navigate the transition from the mission field to their passport country, first addressing issues associated with preparation for leaving the field and then considering issues faced after the return. Topics discussed include closure, changes in you and your passport culture, the winding down of the work, the reality of re-entry and reverse culture shock, the importance of humility and servanthood in adjusting to a local church and its differences to a mission agency, difficulties in re-establishing relationships, stresses particular to families, and ways to continue to support missions after your return.

After the Trip: Unpacking Your Cross-cultural Experience by Cory Trenda

Though this book is intended for individuals returning from a short-term missions trip, it contains some valuable insights into synthesising one's "experiences into actionable lessons that can, over time, actually change one's life trajectory" and could be valuable for those returning from long-term service as well.

The Art of Coming Home by Craig Storti

In The Art of Coming Home, Storti speaks to all types of expatriates, discussing the difficulties in adjusting to re-entry and the accompanying sense of homelessness, the stages of re-entry (leave-taking and departure, honeymoon, reverse culture shock, and readjustment), the issues associated with a return to work in the passport country (primarily written to the corporate repatriates), the challenges faced by spouses and children, and the issues faced by specific groups (exchange students, those working in international voluntary organisations, military personnel, and missionaries and their children).

Homeward Bound: A Spouse's Guide to Repatriation by Robin Pascoe

Not written from a Christian perspective, and with a primary audience of spouses of foreign service and corporate repatriates, Homeward Bound addresses the reasons for a move back to the passport culture, the importance of saying goodbye well, the difficulties of re-entry shock and ways to get through it, the challenges of helping one's children adjust to re-entry, the issues associated with finding a new career, and the problems of fatigue, depression, anger, and resentment that can accompany re-entry.

Praying Our Goodbyes: A Spiritual Companion Through Life's Losses and Sorrows by Joyce Rupp

In Praying Our Goodbyes, Rupp guides readers into an understanding of suffering that can lead us to "gradually grow wiser and find deeper meaning in our existence," leading to, "compassion and to a deeper bonding with others who know hurt and sorrow." She examines the sorrows and goodbyes Jesus faced in His earthly life and stresses the importance of having a pilgrim heart, recognising that we are on a journey and all we have is on loan to us. She goes on to describe what it means to pray our goodbyes and closes with a series of prayers, Scriptures, and meditations on topics related to loss and transition.

The Re-entry Roadmap: Find Your Best Next Step After Living Abroad by Cate Brubaker

Arriving Well: Stories about identity, belonging, and rediscovering home after living abroad by Cate Brubaker, Doreen Cumberford and Helen Watts

The following books on Third Culture Kids have sections about re-entry and how it affects TCKs specifically:

Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century by Tanya Crossman

Third Culture Kids: A Gift to Care For by Ulrika Ernvik

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Rekey

Raising Resilient MKs: Resources for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers edited by Joyce M. Bowers

Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On-Demand World by Robin Pascoe

The member care website Missionary Care has several e-books on the topic of re-entry that can be downloaded for free, including books for children to help them understand and prepare for the transition.


Book titles include:

(descriptions from the Missionary Care website)

Missionary Transitions

Missionaries go through major transitions when they move from their passport cultures to their host cultures and when they return "home." Of course, these transitions are discussed in this book; however, missionaries also go through transitions before they leave, while they are serving on the field and after they return. This book includes information about many of these transitions, including the final transition for all of us, the transition from earth to heaven.

Before You Come "Home": Preparing for Reentry

Written for people anticipating a return to their passport country several months in the future, this book helps them leave "right," making it easier for them to enter "right." Using the Exodus as a model, it gives them an overview of what is ahead so they will know what to expect and how to prepare for it.

Coming Home: The Reentry Transition

As a part of facilitating their reentry retreats, Ron and Bonnie wrote a brief guide to the process of reentry. You can use this book as a part of debriefing in a group, as an aid when being debriefed by another person, or alone as a part of a self-debriefing.


We're Going Home - Reentry for Elementary School Children with parent guide

Ron and Bonnie (an elementary teacher) wrote We’re Going Home (108 pages) for children ages 6-12 who are returning to their passport countries. Written at a third grade level, We’re Going Home includes the story of a family returning to its passport culture. Each chapter also has activities such as scrambled words, crossword puzzles, word searches, mazes, and codes. Ron also wrote I Don’t Want to Go Home (54 pages) as a companion volume for parents. Each chapter in the parent’s book has information about TCKs in the Bible, children’s TCK issues today, and suggestions to help children reenter well. Both books are included in each of the files to be downloaded below.

Reentry After Short Term Mission Service

Written for people returning to their passport country after a few weeks or months of missionary service, this book helps them not only reenter but also consider how they have changed and what that implies for their future. Using Jonah and Paul as examples, it also helps them process the good and bad events that occurred.

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