Q: What do you do, Jamie, as Regional Coordinator?
Jamie: My responsibilities primarily include the finance side of our work; which includes Living Link budgets for our entire team, finance reports, project supervision, and basically monitoring the overall financial state of the 3W Team. I also do the personnel/human resource side making sure the needs of our team are met; whether that be through help with visas or residence permits, field-preparation for a new missionary, and all the details involved with settling in to a new life overseas—the logistical details. And along with Patrick, I also serve as the primary go-between for the missionaries and the office of Global Strategy in Anderson. This involves a lot of email communication, zoom calls, and making sure policies are being followed etc.
Q: What is the most difficult part of your job?
Jamie: I would say 2 things: Due to the nature of our work and the travel involved, sometimes it can be hard to balance the pacing and the work-load. Our motto is “no routine is the new routine.” The second thing is that being more introverted by nature, the people-management and relational side of the job takes a lot of energy. I enjoy that side of it and it gives me a sense of fulfillment when I feel I am helping people, but at the same time, it zaps my energy.
Q: What part of the job do you find most rewarding?
Jamie: I really like keeping things organized (laughs), but probably the most fulfilling part is helping our team process what it means to live cross-culturally and how to navigate the complexities of family life overseas. That kind of stuff.
Q: Marco recently had an unexpected health issue, what happened?
Jamie: At the tail-end of our family Christmas getaway in Austria, Marco started having pretty extreme abdominal pain. So we managed to make it home and immediately went to the doctor and they sent us immediately to the ER with suspicion of appendicitis. Within 12 hours, we drove from Austria back to Germany, saw the doctor, went to the ER and had surgery. Thankfully, the hospital is only 10 minutes from our house. And Marco was released to go home just in time for Christmas. He is now doing great and getting back to normal.
Q: You were a third-culture kid that grew up in Egypt and now you are raising a TCK. What are the challenges of raising a child in a different country?
Jamie: Maintaining a sense of identity, especially a national identity is really challenging. Marco has only spent, altogether, less than 2 years of his entire life in the USA and mostly under the age of 5. So he has a pretty limited understanding of what it means to live in America or to be an American. As a TCK myself, also having limited ties to the USA, it’s hard to help him have a national identity when my own is so fluid.
I think another major issue that TCKs and missionaries face is that living cross-culturally really forces you to understand and examine your personal values. Because a lot of the times the values that we hold dear can be very bound to our primary culture. And when TCKs navigate between multiple world-views, it can be challenging to identify what their core values are. And in fact, their values may change depending on what culture they are in at any given point. Some might think that that is relativism or lack of solid values, but it’s not; it’s actually a very complex navigation of different values and cultural values. TCKs are often very adept at living with that reality.
Q: Can you give us an example?
Jamie: A very simple example would be the value of time. Do you value people being on-time or prompt. That can change totally depending on what culture you are in. In Germany, being prompt and even early is a very strong expectation. Whereas in the Middle East, time is not based on the clock but based on relationship. So it could be very fluid. Another example would be patriotism for a country different from where you live. It can be even more challenging if your host culture sees patriotism and nationalism as something somewhat dangerous. As Americans, patriotism is a very high value, but in other parts of the world, that kind of patriotism and nationalism has often led to war. So that gets pretty complicated for a 15 year old (Marco) to figure out.
Q: What do you do for fun and what kind of hobbies do you have?
Jamie: I really enjoy jigsaw puzzles; any kind of puzzles really. Logic puzzles, number puzzles. I also enjoy reading although I have not been keeping up with that recently. I enjoy spending time in our garden. This is the first time since I was a kid that I have had a yard to do anything in.
Q: You used to be based in Berlin. Now you are in the Black Forest. What are the differences and what do you miss about Berlin?
Jamie: Well, Berlin is a very large city and our town now is a village with less than 4,000 residents. So it was a big move from urban to rural. The key differences have to do with that: the accessibility to things, there’s less English spoken, and our area in the Black Forest is known to be the sunniest part of Germany. Berlin, being so far North, could often be quite dark, especially in the winter.
I miss the urban setting of Berlin. For me, cities feel safe and the countryside is a bit scary. I miss the multi-culturalism of Berlin and I miss the access to cool events and cool restaurants anytime you feel inclined to do something. I like driving and I particularly enjoy city driving so I miss that too.
Q: You were recently at the Regional Coordinator meetings in Cairo. There has been a lot of transition lately, can you update us on what is happening?
Jamie: The most significant change is that in late-fall, our Global Strategy Director, Ben Shular, accepted additional responsibilities within Church of God Ministries. As a result, we in Global Strategy have a new director, Dr. Andrew Gale. Our family has known Andrew for a number of years and we have consistently been impressed with him. This was the first RC gathering with Andrew as our new director, and he did a great job.
We’re really excited to not only have Andrew leading us, but we also have Ben advocating for missions and global ministry. His new role keeps him involved.
Another big change for us is that finally, after a long wait, we have RC colleagues in Latin America. This was also Jason and Abby Torgeson’s first time to meet with our Global Strategy RC team. They will be a fantastic addition!
Q: What are you most hopeful about regarding the CHOG?
Jamie: Of course, a huge focus of our 3W Team is to encourage and facilitate emerging young leaders that will lead the church in the coming 15 to 20 years. it’s been really exciting to see quite a few people choosing to invest their lives in ministry and in leading the church forward. It’s also exciting to see younger couples accepting the call to cross-cultural missions.