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ELIM Family Retreat, June 2014

Barnabas International and ELIM Retreat Ministries are offering a Retreat for 5 whole families of missionaries at their retreat site  in Michigan. The Retreat will be led by a team that has been trained by staff of Missions Training International and Alongside Inc. with a specific focus on the care of whole families transitioning back and forth betweee the States and their homes abroad.

This Retreat is 6 days long,  June 10-15, 2014, at a cost of only $160.00 per family.  The Retreat is exclusively for families that have returned to the States from overseas for home assignment. The family may be at any stage of their home assignment.  The purpose of the Retreat is to offer low key opportunities for debriefing and personal spiritual renewal for individuals, couples and families; a chance for families to relax and play; some time structured—alot of time unstructured.  The Retreat site is 1400 acres of private land with 1.5 miles of beach front on Lake Huron; a private and beautiful, kid friendly environment.

Each family lives in their own home by themselves for the Retreat.  To register, go to and click on the dates, June 10-15.


Do names have meaning? Do they have significance?

What determines the name a baby would receive? A family name come down through the generations? a national or religious hero? Desired characteristics? The day, month, or season when born? After a geographical area? After things in nature, as trees, flowers, heavenly bodies? Other?

Is there a tendency for some kind of pattern to be followed within a family; as, do all names begin with the same letter or syllable? or do they end with a rhyming syllable? If this is the case, how widespread is the practice?

Who names the child—the parents, or grandparents? A prestigious member of the community? Is a person expected to live up to the meaning of his/her name? Is there an auspicious time for naming a child? How is this determined?

Is a person’s name ever changed? For what reason?

Are names shortened for common use? How is this done? Collect some and see if there is a pattern which is followed. Are children ever given a household “pet” name? If so, how long does that name remain in use? Are nicknames used? Are they descriptive of the person, relate to their occupation or talent, or some other criterion?

What power is thought to be in a name? Are there times you should not call a person by his/her name? Why? Are there any names that are taboo or unacceptable for some other reason? What is that reason? What names are most desirable?

Are there names which are popular now which were not popular a generation or so ago? What were popular names back then? What are the popular names now?

65. RELIGIOUS PRACTICES: The Role of Ancestors

Are past generations of ancestors remembered? Are they honored? In what way? Is there a difference between how male ancestors or female ancestors are honored?

How important is this nationally? for the family? to the individual? for the deceased?

Is there a special time locally or nationally when ancestors are remembered? What is done at this time?

Does the family make regular visits to the gravesite(s)?

  • How often do they go?
  • What do they do there?
  • What other activities are done by the family to remember their loved ones?
  • Are there special ancestral shrines?
  • Where are they, and what objects are kept there? How are they used?
  • What other activities are done by family members to care for the needs of their ancestors?

Are ancestors considered benevolent extensions of the earthly family unit?

  • If so, what are the obligations expected to be carried out by the living for the dead?
  • By the dead for the living? For how long?
  • Who in the family makes sure these obligations are carried out?
  • Are there pictures of the deceased in the home?
  • Are they in a special place for remembrance, intercession, or prayer?
  • Are pictures taken of the dead body and put in a special place?

Are the ancestors feared as spirits which might harm the living?

  • How many generations need to pass before the harm is mitigated?
  • What needs to be done by the family to block potential harm?
  • What things offend to the ancestors?
  • If they are offended, what may they do to the living?
  • What must be done to placate their displeasure?

Are ancestors consulted?

  • How often and in what way?
  • Are séances held? When, where and why?
  • What can ancestors do to help the living that the other spirits or gods cannot or will not do?


What is the parental attitude toward schooling for children? How much education should boys/girls have?

To which grade can a child study in the local setting? In order to study further, would the child have to be sent elsewhere? To a boarding school? or to stay with relatives while studying? What value is placed on education by the family? by the community? by the tribe? Does the amount of education received affect the type of employment available? The choice of a marriage partner?

What is considered the minimum education required for an office job? for maintenance work? for a physician? etc.? Would any of these require specialized education and is this readily available? Is there discrimination in admission procedures? In what way?

How is the completion of an educational course acknowledged? Is there a graduation ceremony sponsored by the institution? What does the family or community do to celebrate? Are gifts given and received? By whom and to whom?

What are the expectations of the community, the nation, the family, from a graduate?


How is death viewed? Is there life after death? Is the dead person feared? Why? What steps are taken to protect the living?

How soon is a person buried after death? How is a dead body preserved until the funeral takes place? Is there a “wake?” How are friends and family notified of the death of a loved one? How are people greeted as they arrive? By whom? How long do guests stay and what do they do to comfort the family? How do the chief mourners relate to the guests?

Who prepares the corpse for burial and how is this done? How are financial arrangements made if done by practitioners? Who is responsible for making funeral arrangements? How is the gravesite determined? Who prepares it? How is a corpse disposed of? What happens to the person’s belongings?

Describe the customs observed at death and for a funeral. How long does the mourning period last? What are the obligations and responsibilities of the family during this time? What is expected from friends and others (supplying meals, continued visits, prayer, reciting religious texts, etc.)?

What happens to widows or widowers? Who cares for them? May they remarry? Is there a mourning period? How long is it and what signs of mourning are shown?

Is euthanasia practiced? For what reasons? Are there cases of suicide? For what reasons do people kill themselves? Is suicide treated differently from other types of death?


According to folk belief, what is the cause of aging? Why do people get old? What happens to the soul as the body ages?

What is the average life expectancy? What is the attitude toward old age? What age is considered “old”? Are the elderly honored? Are they considered wise? Are they considered burdensome?

What living arrangement options are there for the elderly? What responsibility is taken by the members of the family? Who makes the decisions concerning their living arrangements? Are there nursing homes or retirement centers available as options? Are these government run or private institutions? How are they financed? What happens to old people who are childless, who have no relatives nearby, or are financially destitute?

What responsibilities do the elderly have in family life? in village life? at festivities or ceremonies?


What types of marriage are recognized by the society? Must there always be a ceremony? Are mass marriages performed, and when? Attend a wedding and describe the ceremony and other activities associated with it. Notice who the participants are. As you have the opprtunity, attend various weddings and note the difference between traditional weddings of various tribes or clans, the difference between a Christian wedding and that of adherents of another faith, the difference between a civil wedding and a religious one, etc.

Who officiates at the wedding? Is there a reception or dinner afterwards, and who arranges it? When are the bride and groom presented to the invited guests? When do the bride and groom see each other for the first time after the ceremony? How do they leave the site of the wedding, and where do they go? Are there other dinners and receptions at another time? What is the traditional schedule kept by the wedding party for the first month (or later if applicable) after the wedding?

Who are invited as guests and how are they informed? What gifts are given? When and how are they given, and to whom? What would be expected of you as a guest?

Where does the new couple live? What is the relationship between the man and the woman and their in-laws? Is the relationship dependent on whether the couple lives with the man’s family, the woman’s family, or in their own house? What adjustment problems do newly-weds have? When is a marriage considered consummated?

How many wives/husbands may a person have? Are there wedding ceremonies when succeeding spouses are taken? Is polygamy permitted? What are relations like in a polygamous household?

Is divorce socially acceptable? What are the reasons for divorce? What is the frequency? Describe a divorce procedure. What happens to the original bride price or dowry? Is there any provision made in the marriage certificate for compensation in case of divorce? Can divorced people remarry? How would such a ceremony differ from a regular one? Who gets custody of the children in a divorce? May women divorce men?


At what age do boys and girls become ready for marriage? Describe the method by which marriage arrangements are made. Are the arrangements made by the parents? If so, how much say do the boy and girl have in determining who their marriage partner will be?

What characteristics are looked for in a potential husband? in a potential wife? Ask about physical, educational, financial, religious, political aspects that need to be considered.

Is courting allowed? Do the boy and girl get to know each other at all before the wedding? What standards must they follow if this is allowed. How is courting initiated, and by whom? Are there different expectations if the prospective pair are from the same neighborhood or from another town? Is a chaperon needed?

Are there kinship restrictions as to whom a person can marry? Clan or tribal restrictions? Can two persons marry if they have nursed from the same woman even though they may not be related by blood line?

When marriage is considered, which side takes the initiative in making a formal proposal? Is there an engagement ritual? Who takes part in this? How long is the period between engagement and the wedding? What activities take part in each home (the groom and the bride) during this time? What preparations need to be made by the girl? by the boy? How binding is the engagement? What happens if the engagement is broken? Who takes the initiative in breaking the engagement?

Is a dowry expected? or a bride price paid? If so, what are the expectations? Who does the negotiations? Is the immediate family responsible for the payment (or preparation), or does the extended family also contribute?


Many cultures have special traditions or ceremonies to induct their young people into the world of adulthood, but some do not. Inquire about the existence of such traditions. Here are some ideas to get you started.

How and at what age is a boy recognized as an adult, able to take part in adult activities? Is there a special initiation ceremony? Is this a tribal ceremony? One conducted by the family? If a family tradition, would each family have its own tradition, or is this also standardized in the culture? Who conducts it? How is the boy prepared for it? Is he given a new name? Who gives it and how is it determined? What activities are now open to him?

How is a girl recognized as having come of age? At what age are a girl’s ears pierced? By whom? Is special note taken of a girl’s first menstruation? How? How is she prepared for it? Does a girl receive an adult name? What duties, responsibilities, or privileges are now open to her?


When is a child considered to be a real person (from birth? by some physical change? by attaining a certain age? at a naming ceremony?) How does a child get its name? Why is a certain name chosen?

When and how is the child weaned? What happens if the mother’s milk is insufficient? Are there wet- nurses? What relationship does a wet-nurse then hold in the family? to the child? How does the child receive toilet training? By whom? At what age is this begun? At what age do children of either sex habitually wear lower garments?

Are children generally treated well? How is love shown to a child (by the father, by the mother, by siblings, by the grandparents or other relatives)? How are children instructed in the society’s customs and history? Is this done as a situation presents itself, or is a specific program followed? How can a child be protected from illness and injury?

How are children taught proper behavior? Are they told frightening stories to encourage good behavior? or are heroes held up as models to follow? How may they be punished? Are girls punished differently than boys?

Are children of either gender treated preferentially? If so, how and at what age does it begin? At what age are girls treated differently than boys? Are there different expectations for behavior in boys and girls? What qualities of character are considered desirable for each?

With whom does the child have the closest relationship? Does this change as the child gets older? Who seems to love the child most? Who helps care for young children?

At what age are children expected to begin doing chores? What type and are these gender- specific? When are they expected to take part in religious observances and rituals?

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