Publications

FMTM Publication Highlight: “Remaining Faithful: A Guide for Reflecting on Short-Term Mission Experiences”

The fifth of five in our series of blog posts highlighting the newest editions of From Mission to Mission Publications:

Remaining FaithfulA Guide for Reflecting on Short-Term Mission Experiences
By Julie Lupien and Michelle A. Scheidt

$11.95 Buy on Amazon

This guide offers a series of exercises for reflection, integration, and prayer following a short-term experience in another culture. As increasing numbers of people participate in short-term mission, this book offers practical tools for integrating the experience as part of a lifelong commitment to service. The exercises can be used by individuals or groups to guide regular, structured reflection for one year following the short-term service experience. The guide shares insights from decades of experience with those returning from a time of living and serving in another culture.

I have been waiting for a resource like this for those who are returning from short-term mission and volunteer programs. They have seen good times and bad and been changed in the process, but they often don’t know what to do with all of this when they come home. Remaining Faithful provides a very usable practical guide—with good input, reflections, exercises, and prayers—to help people reflect upon their experiences and to integrate this into their on-going life journeys.”

– Rev. Roger Schroeder, SVD, Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, Professor of Mission and Culture, Catholic Theological Union at Chicago, Author of What is the Mission the Church? A Guide for Catholics, 2nd ed. (2018)

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES

Julie Lupien has been the Executive Director of From Mission to Mission since 2002. In 2015, she received the first Pope Francis Mission Award from the U.S. Catholic Mission Association, in recognition for years of excellence, vision, and compassion while ministering to missioners returning to the United States after both long-term and short-term mission engagements. As a member of the Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM) Julie served in Zimbabwe, Africa, and St. Kitts, West Indies. Julie’s short-term mission experience includes Alternative Spring Break in Appalachia when she was a campus minister at Northern Illinois University, participating in the Young Neighbors in Action program in Yakima, Washington, and a parish mission trip to St. Kitts when she served as a Pastoral Team member at Spirit of Peace Catholic Community in Longmont, Colorado.

Michelle A. Scheidt has worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years and is currently a program officer at the Fetzer Institute, which is dedicated to helping build the spiritual foundation for a loving world. She served as a lay volunteer for two years and later co-directed the Claretian Volunteer and Lay Missionary Program in Chicago and served as a board member for From Mission to Mission. Michelle has extensive intercultural experience in inner city Chicago and in Latin America. She holds a BA in English from Marian University, Indianapolis; an MA in Pastoral Studies from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago; and a Doctorate in Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary. Michelle and her spouse Barbara Crock live in the woods near Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Publications

FMTM Publication Highlight: “Understanding Short-Term Mission: A Guide for Leaders and Participants”

The fourth of five in our series of blog posts highlighting the newest editions of From Mission to Mission Publications:

Understanding Short-Term Mission: A Guide for Leaders and Participants
by Julie Lupien

Blog post by Julie Lupien, author and From Mission to Mission Director 

For most of our history at FMTM our only focus was on re-entry after years of serving in another culture. This changed when one of our Re-entry Workshop participants expressed that he wished he’d had our workshop after a Spring Break service trip he went on in college. That led to our first resource created to help those involved in short-term mission to reflect on their experiences, “Remaining Faithful: How do I keep my experience alive?” (now “Remaining Faithful: A Guide for Reflecting on Short-Term Mission Experiences).” This then led to numerous requests for help in preparing for short-term experiences.

When I researched what resources were available for short-term mission, I discovered that most focused on the logistics like what to pack. Knowing the importance of good preparation and reflection, I decided to write Understanding Short-term Mission.

When I researched what resources were available for short-term mission, I discovered that most focused on the logistics like what to pack. Knowing the importance of good preparation and reflection, I decided to write Understanding Short-term Mission.

I actually wrote this with someone in mind. When I worked in a parish, Doug volunteered to lead our mission trips. Doug designed computers for a living. He was a very kind and generous person with a big heart. But, he didn’t know a lot about how to prepare the group for what they would encounter on their trip, nor how to reflect on it. I wrote this so that others like Doug could help their groups understand mission and how to enter another culture with respect and sensitivity.

I wrote this so that others like Doug could help their groups understand mission and how to enter another culture with respect and sensitivity. 

This guide offers support and learning for those who lead short-term mission programs as well as for the participants. Topics include understanding mission, practicalities for leaders, a comprehensive tool kit for reflection and spiritual practice, and a series of essays sharing wisdom from experienced leaders of short-term mission experiences.

This book provides practical guidance on how to prepare for, participate in, and reflect on the experience so that participants integrate short-term mission as part of a lifelong commitment to service.

The guide shares insights from decades of experience with those returning from a time of living and serving in another culture.


Many good-hearted women and men have taken part in a variety of short-term mission programs for years, but proper guidance often was lacking. However, finally, this book, Understanding Short-Term Mission, provides an excellent accessible resource for participants and organizers through the stages of preparation, insertion, and return. It includes practical tips, reflection guides, and most importantly in-depth insights into the challenges and opportunities of such experiences.

– Rev. Roger Schroeder, SVD, Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, Professor of Mission and Culture, Catholic Theological Union at Chicago, Author of What is the Mission the Church? A Guide for Catholics, 2nd ed. (2018)

Publications

FMTM Publication Highlight: “Finding Life After Trauma: A Guide for Missioners and Volunteers and Those Who Care for Them”

The third of five in our series of blog posts highlighting the newest editions of From Mission to Mission Publications:

Finding Life After Trauma: A Guide for Missioners and Volunteers and Those Who Care for Them by Michelle A. Scheidt, DMin and Maureen R. Connors, PhD

Blog post by Michelle Scheidt, author and From Mission to Mission Board Member 

Service in another culture offers many rewards and challenges. People who live and work in a culture different from their own are often exposed to trauma, including experiences such as natural disasters, interpersonal conflict, violence, grieving, abuse, stress, and generally feeling overwhelmed by poverty and the needs of others. These trauma experiences are common, whether the volunteer or missioner has engaged in service for a week or for decades, in other countries or in diverse settings in North America. Volunteers and missioners typically face trauma experiences with strength and resiliency, but those who help others sometimes need help themselves.

Volunteers and missioners typically face trauma experiences with strength and resiliency, but those who help others sometimes need help themselves.

This is where From Mission to Mission can offer support and why the organization exists. In 1980 a group of returned missioners realized that they could be the best type of support for one another because they understood deeply the unique experience of mission and re-entry. The organization From Mission to Mission was unexpectedly born from this informal gathering, and has gone on to serve thousands returning home after service in a culture different from their own. Finding Life After Trauma is the fifth book in a series written by returned missioners, for returned missioners, to support the healing journey of transition.

Finding Life After Trauma is… written by returned missioners, for returned missioners, to support the healing journey of transition.

The guide shares insights from decades of experience with thousands of volunteers and missioners who have returned from a time of living and serving in another culture. Some of the questions this guide addresses include:

  • What is trauma? How do I know if I or my loved one is suffering from it?
  • What can I do to foster healing after trauma?
  • How do I know if professional care is needed?
  • What spiritual practices can help heal mind, body and spirit after trauma?
  • How do leaders and organizations best prepare volunteers and missioners so they have the resources to deal with trauma they might experience?
  • What are appropriate responses from leaders, communities, and mission sending organizations when someone in their group has a trauma experience?
  • How can families and friends best support their loved ones who have experienced trauma?

Rev. Kenneth W Schmidt, MA, LPC, NCC, Executive Director of Trauma Recovery Associates based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, offers the following endorsement of the manual: “I have worked with trauma survivors for the past fifteen years. This is a wonderful book for missioners who have so much to process when they return to their first home. Sometimes that includes traumatic events, and this book is a useful guide, while recognizing that some will need additional professional support. It’s also a great resource for the people who love those returning missioners and want to understand and support them.”

People who live and work in a culture different from their own often have experiences of trauma, including experiences such as natural disasters, interpersonal conflict, violence, grieving, abuse, stress, and generally feeling overwhelmed by poverty and the needs of others. Volunteers and missioners typically face trauma experiences with strength and resiliency, but those who help others sometimes need help themselves.

This book offers resources for volunteers and missioners, leaders of mission sending organizations and religious communities, and those at home who want to better support their loved one who has experienced trauma.

The guide includes information and learning about trauma, practical suggestions and tip sheets, and emotional and spiritual practices, and helps equip those who have experienced trauma with the internal resources they need to heal and thrive. This book is one in a series of five volumes published by From Mission to Mission, an organization serving returning missioners and volunteers since 1980. The guide shares insights from decades of experience with those returning from a time of living and serving in another culture.


Really helpful compilation of resources. Finding Life after Trauma is a fantastic resource, even for those who are not missionaries. As a therapist, I have it in my office not only for the helpful compilation of one page resources included, but also the important reminders about self care and tips to avoid vicarious trauma. As a supervisor of other therapists, those self-care and vicarious trauma tips are essential for clinicians to keep in mind. Thanks to the authors for putting this important resource together.

– Amazon customer 5-star review, February 9, 2018

Mission Stories, Re-Entry Workshops, Testimonial

“Three Weeks that Changed My Life” by Salesian Lay Missioner Catherine McNeal

Catherine McNeal returned in 2016 from a year of service with Salesian Lay Missioners in South Sudan where she served as a nurse. Catherine attended From Mission to Mission workshops in preparation for and again after returning in March 2017. This is her story.

catherine mcneal in south sudan
Photo credit: Catherine McNeal, Salesians of Don Bosco

In preparation for my mission, everyone told me that the transition back home after mission would be harder than the transition into my mission. It doesn’t seem like that would be the case, but it is so true. Going to South Sudan as a Salesian Lay Missioner, I expected everything to be different, to be uncomfortable, to be challenging. Coming home, though, should be familiar and comfortable, right? I lived here for 22 years of my life. I know what life is like in America. The challenge in transitioning home isn’t that your home has changed while you’re away, but that you have changed while you’re away.

The challenge in transitioning home isn’t that your home has changed while you’re away, but that you have changed while you’re away.

I was reflecting on this about a month before it was my time to leave South Sudan. I realized that I didn’t really feel like my time there had changed me. I felt like the year was full of many blessings and a lot of growth, but not a lot of change into who I saw myself being. Little did I know what was in store for me during my final weeks, God, of course, in His infinite wisdom, had a completely different plan for me.

I have touched on the story of my last few weeks in Wau in other posts I have written, and have shared the long version with some close friends, but never put it all in writing. About a month ago, I attended a workshop called From Mission to Mission. It was a time of reflection for past missionaries-a time to process the experience and integrate it into our lives now.  Julie, the wonderful leader of this workshop, encouraged me to write about this experience and share it with others. So, here I am, after blankly staring at my computer screen for an hour, attempting to write about the most challenging, fruitful, beautiful, sorrowful, intense and incredible 3 weeks of my life.

South Sudan has been experiencing civil war since they became a country in 2011. It is all based on tribalism. Each tribe wants to have power over the other and does not honor the lives of people from other tribes. The people of South Sudan have not experienced true peace in their lifetime, but for most of the time that I was in Wau, it was relatively stable. It was never an incredibly safe place, but with some extra precautions, things were always fine. There were isolated incidences of violence in Wau as well as problems with inflation and food/medicine shortages. We heard about other areas of the country that were experiencing much more instability than we were. There were many challenges in Wau, but I had gotten used to most of them and found so much beauty in the ways that the sisters’ mission helped the people.

An excerpt from my journal on June 26, 2016:

“I feel like the life that I’ve lived for the past few days couldn’t possibly be mine. Tensions have been rising in Wau all week. Each day we heard about something or another happening in the market, shops closing, a few gunshots each night. Friday evening, I was sitting in my room reading when I heard gunshots. There were many. God was fighting back with thunder, but the big storm never came and the gunshots continued. We navigated the night with no lights because they can be seen from the street. I went to sleep, but was woken up many times by gunshots. We woke up Saturday and prayed it would be over. We had mass in our compound and it was quiet, but as soon as mass was over, so many gunshots and what sounded like bombs. After mass, the stories started to come. So many people had to flee from their homes. We currently have about 1000 people at St. Joseph’s campus [the parish and school run by the Salesians.]”

I was sitting in my room reading when I heard gunshots. There were many. God was fighting back with thunder, but the big storm never came and the gunshots continued.

When something like this happens, we are responsible for contacting the coordinators of our program and letting them know. Ania and Marta (the Polish volunteers who were serving with me) were able to contact their coordinator first. After a couple of phone calls, she told them that they have to evacuate from Wau as soon as possible. They made arrangements to go to Juba, the capital city, the following day and wait for their respective flights out of the country from there. In the evening, I was able to contact Adam, the coordinator of my program, Salesian Lay Missioners. I explained the situation to him, told him that the other volunteers were being evacuated, and asked him if I could stay in Wau. Now, it’s usually at this point in my story when my audience is like, “Are you crazy? Why would you want to stay in that kind of situation?” I have a few reasons why. I want to be very clear, I did not stay in order to “be cool.” If I had no way to help the people, then there would be no reason to stay. If I was just going to be an extra mouth to feed, I would have left with Marta and Ania the very next day. The reality though, was that the people who I came to help needed the assistance now more than ever. As a nurse, I had a very tangible skill that could help them. With many health facilities closed and people now staying in cramped, dirty quarters with no mosquito nets in the middle of malaria season, how could I leave? Many of the children I know were staying in the school, experiencing the most terrifying time of their life. They had to flee from their homes, are sleeping on the floor in the school, and hearing gunshots every day and night. When all the volunteers leave, it adds another level of fear. They see us leaving and think, “wow, even the people who came to help us are leaving because our country is that unsafe.” These kids don’t have the option to leave. I did not feel okay leaving them in the time when they needed me most. Adam agreed to let me stay and the next 3 weeks changed my life.

Now, it’s usually at this point in my story when my audience is like, “Are you crazy? Why would you want to stay in that kind of situation?” I have a few reasons why. I want to be very clear, I did not stay in order to “be cool.” If I had no way to help the people, then there would be no reason to stay.

As soon as I got to South Sudan, I saw suffering on a level that can’t compare to anything I have witnessed in the United States, but during those 3 weeks, I saw suffering on an entirely new level. These people who already had so little, had even more taken from them. Many of them lost the security of their homes, their possessions, their loved ones, or their own lives.

An excerpt from my journal on June 28, 2016:

“I think the past few days will shape my life more than any others. I’ve seen, heard and taken part in things that I never would have imagined experiencing. My days have been completely full of prayer, seeing the sick, visiting the displaced and loving on the little ones. My sleep has been interrupted by more gunshots than one should ever hear. My heart has been broken by the stories of others and the news that our own [pharmacist] Francis was killed. These days have been tough…I feel like a different person than I was 5 days ago, like I’m someone I never thought I would become. My future has never been full of so many unknowns, when I go to sleep at night, I have no idea what the next day will bring. I don’t know if it’s my last day in Wau or my last day on earth and I am at peace with that. I feel at peace with my decision to stay and let God use me however He can. I’ve never felt more reliant on God. These days have been so hard, but also somehow so fruitful.”

My future has never been full of so many unknowns, when I go to sleep at night, I have no idea what the next day will bring. I don’t know if it’s my last day in Wau or my last day on earth and I am at peace with that.

I think I felt almost every emotion possible during this time, but somehow through everything that happened, I never felt fear. I should have prefaced this whole post by saying that I am not a brave person. I don’t like climbing trees and I get scared riding my bike too fast. I should have been terrified; I fully expected myself to be terrified in a situation like this and without God, I absolutely would have been. I wasn’t scared, not because I’m some brave superhero, but because God is stronger than all fear. I wasn’t scared because I knew that I was exactly where God wanted me to be. For the first time in my life I felt what it was like to completely abandon my whole self to His will. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t scared of the unknowns. I didn’t know if there was going to be a tomorrow and that was okay because I was living today exactly as God wished. I trusted in the Lord in a way that I was always called to, but through my pride, had never been able to.  With this trust, I knew that if God had more planned for my life, that he would deliver me out of South Sudan safely. At the same time, if this was it, if it was my time to go, there was peace in that too. If this time in South Sudan was what I needed, if staying these three weeks was what I needed in order to make it to heaven, than that was worth everything.

I should have prefaced this whole post by saying that I am not a brave person. I don’t like climbing trees and I get scared riding my bike too fast. I should have been terrified; I fully expected myself to be terrified in a situation like this and without God, I absolutely would have been. I wasn’t scared, not because I’m some brave superhero, but because God is stronger than all fear.

Spoiler Alert: I made it out of the country.

I made it out of the country and I have been changed. God showed me what it meant to truly and fully trust him, what it felt like to completely abandon my own will to His. That is the level of trust I’m called to every single day. God is guiding me through each moment as I continue to transition into this life he has for me in Atlanta. It is not always easy, but it is absolutely beautiful.

Testimonial

Joyana Jacoby on FMTM Experience

“The From Mission to Mission Re-entry Workshop provided me space to continue to unpack and put into perspective the many struggles and joys I had witnessed and lived”-Joyana Jacoby

“I grew up in central Wisconsin and now live in Chicago. My heart has residence in many places including central Mexico. I served in Leon, Guanajuato for two years as a Good Shepherd Volunteer. I went ready to “listen exquisitely to another way of living on the other side of the border.” There, I accommpanied women in a sewing cooperative, taught English, and worked at a girls’ boarding school. I learned new depths of patience and human resiliency, how to work in a relaxed manner, and the meaning of being a woman in today’s world.

While ready to return ‘home’ after 2 intense years of growth I knew I would have a lot of unfolding to do upon my return. The From Mission to Mission Re-entry Workshop provided me space to continue to unpack and put into perspective the many struggles and joys I had witnessed and lived. It was a sacred space to honor my experience, including the painful and difficult parts, share stories with people who really listened and allowed for ‘my spirit to catch up with me.’ Having the opportunity to spend a weekend with kindred spirits was a pure gift and helped me as I moved to integrating what I learned in Mexico into life here.

I am currently the Service Immersion Coordinator at DePaul University where I have the opportunity to accompany students during transformational immersion experiences.”