Newsletters and the People Who Read Them [—at A Life Overseas]

December 31, 2019 § Leave a comment

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of readers. . . .

Now that we’ve reached the end of 2019, it’s time to work on that end-of-the-year newsletter. Or maybe you’re still working on your November newsletter, or your October newsletter, or even a bi-annual summary—since you missed getting out your 2018 installment. (It happens.)

It’s not easy juggling all the demands of cross-cultural work, including the doing and the living and the reporting of it all in meaningful ways to a diverse audience. When you sit down in front of your blank template, whose faces do you see looking back at you? Who reads your newsletters, emails, prayer updates, and blog posts? How do you manage all their sometimes competing expectations?

How many of the following might see what you write?

your friends who adore you and have your photo on their fridge
your teammates
coworkers from other agencies
Mom and Dad
supporters weighing their budgets for next year
the nationals you serve
those in your host country who are glad you’re doing what you’re doing
those in your host country who wish you’d stop doing what you’re doing
your college professors
people who like pictures
people who like numbers
people who like stories

Finish reading at A Life Overseas. . . .

[photo: “Erasmus’ hands,” by Jim Forest, used under a Creative Commons license]

Adding to Your Story-Letter [—at A Life Overseas]

March 31, 2017 § Leave a comment

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Ahhh, newsletters. (And by “Ahhh,” I’m guessing you know what I mean.)

Living outside your passport country means finding ways to keep people updated about what’s going on with you. Some of those people need to hear about what’s happening and some of them simply want to. The newsletter can take care of both, which is a good thing. But sometimes it can feel like one more burden, especially when there’s not much interesting or exciting (or not much of anything at all) to report. What if your day-to-day goings on don’t feel newsworthy?

How about thinking of your newsletter as a way to tell your story in serial form? A story-letter, if you will. I’m not suggesting that your collected writings would need to be novel-esque. It’s a problem when we think that what we write isn’t enough: not inspiring enough, not impacting enough, not poignant enough, not powerful enough. It doesn’t have to be any of those things. Your story is your story. It is what it is. And we need more “what it is.”

But my main point here isn’t telling you how to write—many of you are already great story tellers. I’m just wanting to help you fill in the gaps when you hit a dry spell. With that in mind, imagine your newsletters bound together, like chapters in a book. What kind of cover would that book have? What kind of illustrations? And what would you add to make your memoir more memorable? Why not add those things now?

So, when you’re sitting in front of your computer screen and you feel stuck, give these a try . . .

Continue reading at A Life Overseas.

[photo: “Large Coptic Bound Journal Covered in Handmade Paper,” by Krispy and Dennis, used under a Creative Commons license]

These Newsletters Aren’t Sent Either

February 19, 2013 § 6 Comments

3742918775_f3b2aee5be_mRuth E. Van Reken’s honest revelations in Letter’s Never Sent has me thinking about all the missionary newsletters I’ve written and read. Missionaries are a good group for emphasizing the positives and putting a good spin on the negatives. Newsletters just aren’t a safe place to share deep struggles, especially when many of the readers are current or potential donors.

I’m not saying that every newsletter should be filled with pain. I’m not even saying that every missionary has enough pain to fill a newsletter. What I am saying is that if the only things you know about missionaries come from newsletters, presentations, and answer-the-routine-questions conversations, then you don’t know the whole story. And what I am saying is that if you are a missionary who is hurting, you are not alone in what you’re going through.

In fact, if you’re any kind of cross-cultural worker or a Third Culture Kid or a trailing spouse or an expat or a repat or a soldier overseas or a family member left behind, and if, at one time or another, any of the following could serve as a heading for your next newsletter or blog or prayer update . . . believe me, you are not alone.

Nobody cares.
God has been silent for a long time.
This was a mistake.
I’ve changed, and I don’t like who I’ve become.
I feel betrayed.
I’m overwhelmed.
I don’t care anymore.
I think I’m going crazy.
Where is my joy?
I wish I could die.
I feel like a failure.
I’m afraid.
I’m lonely.
I’m angry.
I’m disappointed in myself, and I think God is, too.
I don’t belong.

Let me say it one more time: If this is where you’re at or where you’ve been, You are not alone.

And I hope you’re never, ever left to feel as if you are.

[photo: “Creativity,” by Mark van Laere, used under a Creative Commons license]

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