The First 100 Days on the Mission Field

In a day of accessible travel, many have experienced other cultures and even the challenges that come with going overseas. But for even the most well-travelled, moving to another country can be full of challenges and unknowns not experienced on a short trip for holiday or even ministry.

So, what is it like to live in a new country for the first time? You work so hard building up to this moment: filling out paperwork, talking with friends, supporters, and churches. You are selling everything you own and leaving everyone you know to start a new life in a new place. What are the emotions and adjustments that come with the first 100 days in the field?

The First 100 Days on the Mission Field

When I arrived to serve full-time on the mission field, my new team cautioned me about specific stages of emotions I would go through in the first few months. But as I stumbled my way through the first 100 days, I realised it’s just not that simple.

The first 100 days are often a blender of emotions and experiences. You are grieving what you left behind, excited for what is to come and relieved to finally be here. After landing on three different fields in the span of two years, I discovered transitioning to a new field is often not a smooth series of stages.

There is chaos in discovering a new normal. I wasn’t the only one to experience this on arriving to Europe. Emma, Daniel and Clarissa, Greater Europe Mission workers new to the field share their own experiences of the first 100 days.

The First 100 Days on the Mission Field / Paris

Emma, who arrived in Paris to serve with GEM in 2022, explained to me that on her first night in Paris she sat in her bed and thought:

“What did I just do? I just moved away and there’s no return ticket.”

Though there is excitement in moving to this new place, new workers experience a sense of shock and fear that comes with starting from scratch. She shared it was difficult to explain to people back home how it felt.

Yes, it is hard, but it is also what she wants to do, she loves it here.

“Moving here was such a weird juxtaposition of excitement and grief.”

During the first few months, grief and joy go hand and hand––it is not just beautiful or just hard, there is always both. And even though it’s sometimes not felt, God reveals Himself in new ways when holding the hard and beautiful all in one hand.

Clarissa, who started serving in Europe during the summer of 2022, shared that in the transition, God brought her to a deeper dependence on him. “God taught me to recognize that I can’t do anything without him.”

She explained that being single in ministry, she tends to want to jump in and get stuff done on her own, but God taught her to slow down and depend on His strength. “I need naps and rest,” she said. “I learned to be okay with that and not feel guilty about it. It’s exhausting to adjust to new things and new places.”

While it’s difficult to adjust, it is also rewarding. David moved to Prague in 2023, leaving his successful life in the states to serve with kids and refugees coaching European football. He told me, “It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done but also the best thing I’ve ever done.” While it was hard and often exhausting to start over somewhere else, David found that moving to Prague was just like moving to a new home.

The First 100 Days on the Mission Field / Prague

He explained, “I didn’t leave anything, I just extended my reach. My home just got bigger.”

Emma shared that for the first few months, she soaked up the sweet innocence of living in Paris for the first time.

“I would spend my days off in Paris walking around,” Emma told me, “Doing things in the city I could find for free. I realised my job right now is to just learn this place.” She took advantage of her time in language school to also learn the country and culture.

The First 100 Days on the Mission Field

Similarly, Clarissa explained that finding cultural things to do at the beginning is a great way to learn the place and country as you are landing––even something as simple as learning how to make a local dish. Learning and exploring your country can be a cool way to be excited about the place you are living.

There were days in England or in the Czech Republic where I looked around in awe as I sat or walked around my city, or a place near me, soaking in the fact that I live in Europe.

I was doing what I always wanted to do––to live overseas and do it for God’s glory.

It doesn’t mean I didn’t experience days where I felt alone or moments that felt hard or frustrating. But it was important to take the time to be thankful and excited about where I was at, remembering the answered prayers.

The first 100 days can be such a beautiful and sacred time, full of memories that won’t be forgotten––and some memories that are hard to hold. These early days are a time to let God step in to the discomfort of leaving the known, and to enter the unknowns with curiosity and trust that God has beauty in store.

About the author and photographer: Hannah Ruth Branson is a storyteller in Europe.