Living away from my home country brings its set of challenges — one of which is wanting to find connections with people who also are living outside their home culture.
I’ve always been intrigued by the power of connection through social media, but over the last two years of living in Manila, I’ve learned even more about the power posting can have on building relationships.
Here is a list of online resources that have helped me connect with other missionaries and their stories from around the world.
Blogs for Missionaries
This blog has been a lifeline to me over the past two years. Their posts, mostly written by missionaries, are raw, challenging and inviting. They make me think, call me out on my own wrong attitudes and often have me saying, “Ah! Me too!”
Jerry Jones (not the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, the other Jerry Jones) lives in China with his wife and three kids. For work, Jerry trains people who transition between cultures, and on his blog, he writes about what he sees and learns as an international businessman. Traveling back and forth between cultures has taught him that his life is a ‘wonderfully awkward mix of people who see the exact same world from completely different perspectives.”
3. Velvet Ashes
For many of my friends who live overseas, Velvet Ashes is not just their favorite blog, it’s the only blog they read about expat life. Velvet Ashes is an online community for women who live outside their home countries and desire to connect with others and thrive. The site hosts retreats and book clubs and features blog posts written by women around the world.
A few other blogs that stuck out in my research are:
- Thrive Connection: heartfelt pieces written by women living overseas.
- Erin Meyer’s blog: articles and resources on doing business cross-culturally.
- Nations Foundation: gospel-centered reform through creative journalism.
If you’re looking for country-specific blogs, a simple search with keywords like “expat” or “missionary blog” plus your host country will likely return personal blogs. These may give you some surprising new connections, insights and encouragement. Maybe a new friend or two, as well.
Facebook Groups for Missionaries
1. Local expat groups:
I started using local buy/sell Facebook groups as a way to furnish our apartment. But I discovered there are Facebook groups for many different demographics living here in Manila (women, moms, trailing spouses, men, even wives of foreign men who run hotels).
Through a group focused on expat women (called “Ma’am Manila”), I’ve been able to ask cultural questions, learn from other women’s experiences and even have met offline with other women living here. Do a Facebook search to find out if there are groups in your area available to join.
2. I Am A Triangle:
Little did Naomi know that a simple blog post would grow into an online Facebook community of over 10,000 people from all over the world. In 2013, she posted this blog post called “I Am a Triangle,” describing the tension expats face when they return to their home country after living abroad — how they no longer feel like they fit. Her words caught the heartstrings of many who have lived in multiple countries.
There is now a community of men and women coming from different cultures and living in different cultures, sharing and connecting about life on this Facebook group.
3. Mission organization groups:
Find out what Facebook groups are available through your missions organization. Organizations may have groups where everyone can post and share updates, and some may have groups for specific demographics (women, millennials, businesspeople) to communicate and share resources.
Instagram for Missionaries
I recently asked a group of new friends, “How did you meet each other?” They looked at each other suspiciously, breaking into laughter while replying, “Instagram!”
It’s becoming more and more common for social media to spawn real-life friendships. But while distance may keep us from all connecting in person, we can easily share life with others who walk a similar path to us.
Search common hashtags to find other overseas workers around the world, maybe even some in your area. To start, try searching these hashtags:
You can also search for locations near you to find people with common interests in your area.
Podcasts for Missionaries
Listening to podcasts has been a favorite practice of mine while we commute or wait in traffic. While you’ll often find me listening to something light and entertaining (my personal favorite is anything from Gimlet Media), there are some helpful podcasts out there geared toward missionaries and expats. Here are a few I found worth noting:
1. Global Missions Podcast: A collaborative effort between mission organizations, this podcast dives into current discussions and topics around the world such as raising support through storytelling, the global refugee crisis and tentmaking.
2. Engaging Missions: Bryan is a storyteller. While his day job in logistics may make your eyes glaze over (his words, not mine), he has a Skype account, and he’s not afraid to use it. Bryan interviews missionaries around the world and shares their stories on this podcast. (He also shares some of his favorite podcasts here).
3. Two Fat Expats: Kirsty and Nicki are two seasoned expats who think a life overseas is meant to be enjoyed rather than endured. And they believe that life should be lived large. Currently in season three, their episodes are informative, entertaining and endearing.
Did I leave one of your favorite resources off this list? Let me know in the comments below. And be sure to subscribe to the TEAM blog for regular posts about life as a missionary.