When Natural Disasters Strike…

On February 6, a 7.8 earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria, quickly followed by a 7.7 earthquake later that same day. In the following days, countless volunteers and workers from around Türkiye and the world would learn of the devastation and try to reach out to help. The death toll currently sits at over 56,000, but will likely continue to increase. Our staff psychologist describes these first weeks as the “heroic” stage of disaster response, a time when many people pushing themselves to their utter limits to try and rescue whoever they can. But as we all recognize, we can’t live in these states forever and relief workers often find themselves feeling disillusioned and hopeless in the months following days. 

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Beyond Counseling…

I recently came across an article talking about how our closest relationships can suffer during times of intense stress. And let’s be honest, life can be stressful! For those who have moved overseas, there’s a season of intense change, culture shock, language barriers, etc. As everything feels more difficult, we may find ourselves turning away from or even against the most important people in our lives. If you recognize something of yourself in this description, consider the questions in this article as potential conversations starters with the people you’re closest to.
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God is a Good Father

Nick, LMHC originally wrote this for the counseling center

The book of Jeremiah presents to us the voice of a grieving prophet having lived through a transition from the relatively stable nation of Israel under King Josiah through its utter destruction. We can hear the echoes of the despairing and bereft within his text, but he also provides us with a voice that we so often need in life: the voice of a good parent.

Jeremiah 30-31, the so-called Book of Consolation, speaks to an alienated people, living out the insecurity of a refugee life, hopes lost in foreign lands and weighed down under the rule of foreign gods. How could people whose home has been taken away find home again? Baruch writes of a divine command to the people that they call out to the Lord and follows it up immediately with God’s response:

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Every expat can tell you stories of holidays overseas. I’ve been watching moms across our city search for advent calendars, cream cheese, peppermint sticks… anything to make the holidays feel like “normal” from their lives before. Other times, I think, it’s in a genuine effort to share what a “western” Christmas looks like with their friends and neighbors who haven’t ever experienced it before.

We are learning a new dance between the traditions and family gatherings and abundant holiday lights from our home culture, and the quieter, distant culture here that doesn’t celebrate at all. In a sense, we’re finding a new balance between worlds.

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Collaboration in Counseling

Nick works with a lot of families and couples living all over the world. Here, he gets the privilege of collaborating with a team of therapists to provide better care for entire families.

Here’s a few examples of the types of issues the counselors address:

  • A child with a new mental health diagnosis may lead to our helping the family learn and practice new way of working together both for the well-being of the child and the rest of the family
  • A traumatic event (e.g. a political coup or a scary evacuation) may lead to children and parents learning how to process and make sense of what they’ve experienced
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Counseling TCKs

Where are you from?

We ask this all the time in normal conversations, right? For us, it’s pretty easy to answer. We’re from Indiana, but we live abroad now. In fact, we have roots generations deep in a small community, and most of our family is in a 2 hour radius from that one spot. I don’t think I realized how unique that was until moving abroad. The fact Nick and I were from the same small town and knew each other growing up… most people in our sphere now can hardly imagine that! All that to say, it’s pretty easy for us to say where we’re from. There’s an identity in that shaping us even now as we experience life in a new culture that looks very different from our old one.

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There are MANY TIMES when we are filled with gratitude at the support we have received in this work. Not only does the financial support to Safe Haven allow us to do this work, but your physical help at times makes things happen that we just couldn’t do on our own! Here’s just one example of why we need a village to do this work here.


We have been in the process over the last couple of months in doing our annual homestudy update for our adoption. Part of that process included Indiana needing our updated fingerprints. In Indiana (one year ago) we were able to simply go into a local office for quick electronic fingerprints that were soon sent from their office to the police and our homestudy provider. It was a smooth, easy even, and took place during a matter of days.

This year, because we are living abroad and unable to go to that local office, it look a total of 13 extra people / groups, EACH ONE of whom provided a critical piece of the puzzle to make it possible for us to document our fingerprints and provide them for the Indiana State system, a process that took over a two months.

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Preparing for Success

Nick originally wrote this article for our Counseling Center with expats in mind. We hope it can be a great resource for many of you as well!

by Nick, LMHC

Attention is costly

The primary mechanism of our computer’s ability to multitask is something called “context switching.” Essentially, the processing unit saves a task off to memory in a way that it can later retrieve and then shifts over to another task. Each context switch comes with a performance cost though, if only because the act of switching is another action that costs energy.

Just like the computer, shifting our attention, even to something positive, does take a little more energy every time it happens and when it’s happening a lot, we can find ourselves struggling more and more to maintain our attention.

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