Married on a Mission

So we’re back. I’ve been asked whether the trip was “fun”, and that’s a really hard one to answer! There were fun moments, but overall, I’d say that the trip was hard in physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. I’ll probably spend a good amount of time writing things out over the coming few weeks. For now, I’ll start with a post that’s actually related to marriage.

MrH and I had the luxury of having an 8-person army tent all for ourselves. That was also true for another married couple, and the third married couple had come down in their RV and used that. Throughout the week, we hooked into a group of about 15 people who were down on a mission trip. They came from Pennsylvania, and readily adopted the two of us in their work crews. Most of the people in that group had wives, husbands, and/or kids back at home who hadn’t been able to join them. There was only one husband/wife set who had both made it down. He slept in one of the men’s tents, she in the women’s tent. It looked like a really tough week for them.

They were an older couple; maybe in their 60s. Experienced in home repairs, mission trips, and meticulous about measuring the drywall just so! They were not only on the same crew all week, but also worked directly together every day all day. MrH and I often split up if we did projects in pairs, so that we’d be at the same worksite, but not working in tandem for 8 hours a day. Even so, each night we spent about an hour, in the privacy of our tent, debriefing the day. Not just the actual events, but also how it made is feel, why I looked at MrH funny, and why he didn’t want to sit next to me during dinner.

When you spend all day together but in front of other people, that time is essential in order to strengthen your bond and remind each other that you’re still playing on the same team. I think that’s why this couple had such a hard time – not having private time to connect and love each other. By the third day, their stress was already visible, and we witnessed a few awkward moments. By the time we dropped them off at the airport, I asked her how the week had been for her. She said it had been good, but she was now ready to go home. I could see in her eyes that she meant she was ready three days ago.

When MrH and I take a trip like this again, we will be sure to build in some private space where we can come together to debrief, to understand one another, and to forgive and love each other every day.


1 Comment

  1. kate said,

    February 19, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Thanks for sharing. I certainly relate to needing that private couple time while being among others. It strikes me as so utterly “human” that even as we attempt to live outside our own lives for a bit (be it as you have just done, or simply visitng friends and family) our basic needs do not cease, perhaps even more so in these moments. Would love to talk more with you.

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