10 things I want to learn overseas

10 Things I Want to Keep Learning Overseas

The older I get, the more I want to learn. I want to grow, change, mature, live fully, excel, step out, and do more.

Learning is always happening but it takes a certain amount of purpose to grasp the lessons, hold on and truly grow.

This is especially important in our lives overseas as there are new things happening around us every day. It takes patience, slowing down and listening to sense the things God is showing us.

I’ve decided that learning is always, always a good thing but it takes purpose, intention and a desire to grow.

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” -Jiddu Krishnamurti

For me, the past years have been full of a huge list of things I’ve learned.

Travel, moving, culture, language… the lessons are many and the challenges great.

Yet, there is acknowledgement in my heart that I have more things to learn.

New things that God is doing. New things that just might require pulling up the boot straps and actually stepping out into the waters of unknown places.

Part of learning new things overseas is getting up, getting out and moving forward. Stretching, slowly building momentum to something greater.

Some of these lessons are spiritual. Some are practical. Some are things I’ve been wanting to do. Some are things I’ve been asked to do. But they are all areas that I want to learn and grow.

Things I Want to Keep Learning

1} Learn to do the next thing – Each new season, each new challenge brings an overwhelming amount of decisions, things to do, and life to process. I want to do the next thing. I want to see the next thing as a beautiful way that God is refining me. I want to learn how to skip the overwhelm and just do the next beautiful thing.

2} Learn to keep growing in my relationship with God – New seasons take us to new depths with Jesus. I’m learning that God’s Word is truly alive and active for my circumstance, my stage of life. He is deep and wide and full of things to learn. The Holy Spirit longs to teach us and grow us and take us further. I want that. I want to learn to DO that. Even if time with God is messy and life is busy, I need to keep growing in God.

Want to Learn - What is God asking you to keep learning?

3} Learn to communicate – Communicating in a new culture, a culture that has its own sub-cultures, it very tricky. Facial expressions, hand motions, words in many languages all blend into a whole new way of communicating with people. There is so much to learn about communication in other countries and cultures. Communication opens so many incredible doors to learning about ourselves and those around us. This is also more than just living in another country. This is learning to talk to those around us from different backgrounds, beliefs and walks of life in ways that communicate God’s love. A challenge for us all in today’s world.

31 Day to Learning and Growing Where You Are – Velvet Ashes

4} Learn how to be me again – That might sound just crazy to you, but to me (and a lot of other missionary expats) this is very real. We check ourselves at the airport and don’t know how to find ourselves within an entirely new context. This author said it like this, “Expats too often check significant parts of their lives at the airport.  They assume that they can’t do things because it is not instantly obvious how they can.” We all know it IS possible to do and be those things… we just don’t know how. So my number one on this list is to learn how. Do you ever feel like you need to learn how to be you again after a life change, transition, struggle or growth step?

Tips for a Healthier You

5} Learn new skills – Overseas life requires some serious pioneer woman skills. Slowly but surely, I’m learning new things and getting into a little bit of baking bread, making tortillas {which I’ve learned and you can too!} and so on. Jeremy is a huge help in this because he enjoys being in the kitchen {much to the amazement of our Senegalese friends!} and I’m so thankful for his love of all things cooking! And learning to share the kitchen, work together and end the day with jobs well done.

6} Learn to be home – This is starting to feel like home. Which is another huge long-term missionary milestone. Learning to be “home” wherever we find ourselves, where our family is together, where love is. And knowing it is a temporary home with a future home in heaven waiting for us. Home is a rough topic for expats and learning to understand the many facets of this is challenging but good. It means being able to live in the present and look ahead and do both of them well.

Things I Want to Learn

7} Learn to live fully – As part of mending, I’m realizing that I’ve been in survival mode for a long, long time. Just survive the application process. Just survive furlough. Just survive all the goodbyes. Just survive language school. Just survive our first year overseas. Just survive rainy season… just survive. From one day to the next. Survive. Now, it is time to live. Not just survive. Because of our newness, there will still be great moments, long days of survival to come. But I need to make pockets of living. Where a day or two or three feels less like survival mode and more like normal life.

8} Learn to process well – The same author states, “Processing and complaining can start with the exact same statement.  For example “This is really hard.” That is a fair and true statement but what you do with it sets you on one of two trajectories that ultimately lead to very different places.  Processing the hard stuff is absolutely critical for staying well.” And after all we’ve been through, I want to stay well. Which means learning to process well. Process the new places, new cultures, new foods, new experiences, new feelings, new trials, new everything… and process it well.

“Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” Abigail Adams

10 things I want to learn overseas

9} Learn to read – What? me? learn to read? I am an avid reader. But an avid FICTION reader. I rarely read anything other than fiction, except my Bible… I rarely dig in too far to other genres. maybe once or twice a year… But this year, I’m already falling deeply in love with reading other things like the sermons of CS Lewis and the raw beauty of Elisabeth Elliot and the true stories of Lilias Trotter… learning to read and soak in new things.

10} Learn to do things in new ways – I’m continuing to learn to do things differently. to think differently. All things I know, I now need to know them differently. Learn to do them in new ways. This takes a new humbleness, ability to laugh at my own mistakes and trust that each day things will get easier.

11} Learn to speak less – I want to learn to speak less. I need to listen. Just listen. and learn while listening. Listen rather than voice an opinion or add a thought. Just listen. Or just be silent and watch.

12} Learn to pray – Of course, I pray now. But I want that spiritual discipline to grow. I want to speak less to others and speak more to God. I want to go to Him first for all things. I want to deepen an already growing relationship. I want to hear His voice. I want to know Him more. and for that, I must learn to pray. more. longer. deeper. quieter. still.

These are lessons that I want to learn as God writes every single page of my story.  I want my heart to grow and change.

It’s a daily prayer for God to build, character, strength, trust, and hope through these lessons I’m learning overseas.

What are things you want to learn?







  1. “Learn to be me again.”..isn’t that the truth! And now we’re back in the States for an extended time and I have to Learn to be Me again AGAIN.

    Oh – and the to-do list – totally. Since I first moved to my host country, I no longer can do everything on my “to-do list” anymore – no matter where I am. Not sure what that is a factor of….:-)

    Praying for that e-book, Jenilee!

    1. Thanks Michele! We have 8 months left of this term before heading stateside for a year… it will be another season of transition and learning! You’ll have to keep me posted on how it is going!

  2. So encouraging. As a person who wants to be a long-term missionary someday, your posts have been such an inspiration to me. Keep it up! 🙂

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