The Gift of Facebook Overseas

I’m going to tell you the least cool thing about me: I love Facebook, and I have very few thoughtful qualms about technology. Both have enhanced my life overseas so much, it’s hard for me to be anything but positive. Here’s the short list of reasons why I think of Facebook as a gift.

MAF missionary Joy Neal 03

    1. My friends and I witness each other’s lives. When I visited the States this past month, I didn’t field off-base questions like, “What does your hut look like?” My friends had a good sense of my life, and I was current on theirs. Instead I simply enjoyed being in the presence of friends and family—a pleasure that social media will never replace.

MAF missionary Joy Neal 01

  • My son and his grandparents stay connected. When I was sick with a tropical flu, my mother-in-law called my three-year-old over video chat. He answered by himself, and they played Legos together for two entire hours while I napped.
  • Facebook eases the difficult logistics of life overseas. Through crowdsourcing among teammates and expats, I have found handymen, restaurants, furniture, medical assistance, recipes, a preschool, two rental houses for staff members in language school, and a bag of marshmallows that made my kid’s day.


MAF missionary Joy Neal 02

  • Social media increases my feeling of connectedness and emotional stability. This life I’ve chosen comes with a lot of goodbyes, separation, and changes. The extent to which communication technology mitigates those feelings has been, for me, invaluable. As a result, I have more and better energy to offer my family, team and community.


So there you have it: four things about technology and social media that I never take for granted. Would you add anything to this list? What “thoughtful qualms” do you keep in mind in order to navigate social media well?


  • Karen Loudon says:

    Having grown up as an MK in Africa and now raising a family of 4 MK’s in Africa, I truly appreciate the technology that allows me to keep in contact with my children. Emails kept us in touch when they went off to boarding school in another African country. As they went off to college, skype and yahoo became my good friends. Now with one in the Bahamas, 2 in the USA, and 1 in Kenya, I thank the Lord daily for all the internet and cell phone technology that allow me to still have significant input into their lives, to share joys and sorrows, prayers and praises. Such a change from when I graduated from mission boarding school over 40 years ago and went off to the USA! I didn’t really know my relatives and the lack of timely communication with my parents & siblings was a real hardship. Thank you, Lord, that my children don’t have to feel that way.

    • Joy says:

      That’s really cool, Karen. Great perspective, having done the “missionary life” both before and within the age of technology.

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