We took a few days to cry together, to blink, to stay home and put in the garden. We tried to absorb the shock. They carefully planned all of this so that it landed on my husband's birthday as the last day he was allowed in the office. We decided we would fight back, and we threw a huge birthday party at our house. We knew the team needed to gather, to see we were ok, and to have a formal goodbye since nothing was planned. So we threw a party.
First of all, Harry tried to cut off our e-mail. Well, strangely, the office e-mail was not belonging to the mission, but it was something my family members (I belong to a family of highly intelligent, geeks.) had set up and were running. My family refused. Harry insisted. My family then said that if they pushed that, they would take down the entire system that they had set up to run the entire office. Harry backed down fast. It was the first step to say no, to set limits on the damage, and it felt good to win it.
We began with phoning someone who was in our organization but who sounded like he had an idea of member care. Well, in the meantime, he had left the mission, but he referred us to a church that he used to work with with some good counselors. We drove all day and went down there. They had a child psychologist meet with my daughter, and they had someone meet with us.
We told this psychologist the whole story, including all the "care" we had received to this point. He shook his head, sighed, and said that it is all too common of a story. He strongly recommended that we leave the mission. He also referred us to a missionary debriefing center. We also met with the church's mission team who listened for the first time to the trauma, laid hands on us, and prayed for us. What a difference!
At home, I did my research on the debriefing place, but one thing worried me. They did all their work in groups. I was worried about the effect of our story on a group of people since most of what they did was furlough debriefing. I felt that if we went in a group and told our story, it might have the unintended consequence of making other people feel like their stories were nothing, and I did not want that to happen. Everyone's experience is valid and deserves to be heard and valued. I didn't want to make people who suffered the confusion of having to see poverty up close and feeling unable to help everyone to feel like they didn't have a real reason to be struggling. So I phoned the center, and explained what we had gone through and my concerns. The lady on the phone took a deep breath, thanked me for calling, and agreed that yes, it would not be good to be in a group for that. She also expressed shock that we were years in and our mission had not sought help for us. She recommended that we phone another place that was actually set up not as a furlough debrief, but a trauma care center for missionaries.
During the summer, we also headed down for a week at my former Bible school. We asked for their advice, and again we were urged to leave the mission and not stay in it. We were told to look forward to what God has for us and be thankful that it will no longer be with them, but God will have something better. We rested there with them and enjoyed being loved.
Again I did my research. After being so burned, we took our time to thoroughly research everything. We also phoned two more people, another person from our organization and another good friend. The first apologized and said they already knew that our organization severely lacked member care and they were sad that this had happened. They supported us looking for debriefing and trauma care and prayed with us. The second person listened and also referred us to the place we had already been referred to. They said they had also been there and they were very helpful.
So we picked up the phone and applied to go. Another friend strongly recommended that we take the entire family to this place. The costs were in the thousands... and we had no money. So hesitantly, we wrote our home church asking for funds to go. Our home church wrote our mission and our local church and asked what they thought. Our mission wrote them back, ccing us, and told them not to support us going there because we were not focusing on the things they told us to, our marriage, and were looking for other types of care that "may have some benefit, but are not the problem". So our home church refused to support us. We cried that night. But the next morning brought news that one supporter was giving half of what we needed because he believed in us and knew we needed some help. We scraped the rest, and some friends donated as well, and we set out to go. To be honest, our hopes were not that high, but we set out to go.