An article came out about a year ago that I read titled – Why Missionaries Can Never Go Home Again…. and many of the comments resonated within. As I read it again, I was reminded of many of the things that struck me with this time back home again. Everyone who is serving in a different country chooses to do time at home differently. Some rotate home for a year. Others rotate home on months. Some come back to their home country very briefly and others choose to never return. For me it has been sporadic – and each time increasingly more disconnected. There is not easy way to connect.
I had someone ask me if I felt more at home in America or more at home in Guatemala – and the truth is – neither. You feel on a bridge. Only at home in some areas of your life. Never at home in all of them. Guatemala will never become home because a piece of you is in the states and the states will never be home again because a piece of you will always be in Guatemala.
Life continues on while you are gone and the changes magnify. Even if you have talked with friends and family while you were gone, there is so much of their lives that you have missed – each time it is like starting over again. Their kids no longer recognize you, people don’t know what to ask – so they don’t ask, and you have missed so much.
It is hard to relate to my American friends because you are so separated from American culture and living as Americans do – and they cannot relate to what goes on in Guatemala because the ideas are so foreign to them. Many times you talk about what you are doing, but you summarize by cutting out each part of your life that others would not relate to… and that leaves a three minute summary. When you come back from a short term trip, there are so many more things to talk about because each day was exciting and new. Now each day is real life. Each day consists of routines. And the days flow together to create life as it now is.
As I have returned to the states I find myself driving down streets in town noticing how far apart the houses are and how much privacy everyone has (previously I felt claustrophobic when living in town).
I notice how green and lush it is and how empty the yards and streets are – not cluttered with dogs and pigs and chickens and plastic chairs and clothes hanging on barbed wire fences.
When I see Spanish, I find myself reading the Spanish, before the English that is right beside it.
I walk through stores and on the streets invisible – without the pressure to greet everyone that walks by. And if someone does happen to say something, my immediate response is “Adios” – without even thinking.
I forget how scheduled lives have become and how strictly we stick to those schedules. And how I feel now that I won’t ever really have a schedule again in my life.
I notice that I am the only one who doesn’t notice it is raining and look to immediately go inside or that there is grass all over my feet and I don’t feel the need to immediately wash it off.
I notice that when the music gets fuzzy on the radio, I still think it is amazing to be able to be surrounded by music while driving on a smooth road.
You complain about less, and embrace more. And for this I am grateful for my years living with less and loving more. Days of frustration with living outside of my culture that have led to surrendering many of the things in life that don’t matter – there may be grass on the floor, my clothes may not completely match and the music might be a little fuzzy – but they are all now acceptable and welcomed.
I will quote the article here and add the entire link below if you would like to read it…
Home is no longer home. And sadly, that other place on the mission field will never truly be home either. Home is both places, and neither place, at the same time.
When at “home”, the missionary dreams about their host country.
When in their host country, the missionary dreams about their home country.
Missionaries are forever caught between two worlds. They can no longer completely identify with the people whom they left behind in the home country. But they can never truly identify with the people in their host country.
Home is everywhere.
Home is nowhere.
But that’s okay. There have been other travelers on this road.
“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)
While here on earth, we will always feel a bit unsettled and out of place. Missionaries and those of us living away from the place we grew up may experience that more than others. But someday, all those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ will finally be home again.