“He inhabits the praise of His people.” This verse was my verse as we winged our way across the ocean. The only home we truly have is HIM and He lives in our praise. This stabilized my soul.
“Expect delays. Expect challenges. Expect frustration. Expect hiccups and speed bumps and problems along the way to a fully functional thriving life where you are not only enjoying life, but also pouring out on the people around you…. Plant the seed, set the right environment. Put the right things in and keep the wrong things out. Start with some tiny roots, then give yourself space and time and grace to emerge in due time. You’ll get there–even if you haven’t yet.”
“Transition (and reentry) challenges personality. It attacks normalcy. It assaults identity. But when you know who you are in your core (and who you belong to) you can go anywhere with confidence. When you don’t you will be stuck in the anxiety of a missing identity because you’re relying on the outside stuff to define you.” -Jerry Jones
We said goodbye to Tanzania to the ring of pastor Korosso’s words, “Taabu yetu haitakuwa bure.” (your work and challenge will not be in vain). His eyes were full of tears and he kept making the small exclamations and sighs that Tanzanians do so well when emotion overwhelms them. Trying their very best to hide it all. Mama Korosso refused to “sindizia” us but hid away in her room as we left. Kim and I procrastinated for as long as we could, stared at each other not believing that we had to say goodbye…then sobbed our hearts out. We haven’t recovered yet and don’t dare make any phone calls yet due to overmuch emotion.
The last of a string of goodbyes. And my heart felt ragged and raw and ached so intensely it took my breath away.
There’s nothing like the dazed body and emotions of traveling 10,000 miles in 24 hours. The children fell into a deep slumber the whole three hours from the airport and they slept all night through all week long. So no jet lag, which was a first for us. We arrived at the familiar little house on Williams Road and set to work settling in. Kasia soberly sat on the top of the basement stairs that first morning, staring down into the basement. “Mom, a SHOP in the HOUSE. That is gross.” She had never seen a basement before. She still doesn’t “take baths” but rather “goes swimming” as the bathtub is so huge and wonderfully fun. The first week she had no tolerance for people and almost stopped eating. When we asked her what she wants to eat, “just rice and beans, and maybe some porridge.” She lost weight, but thankfully since has learned how to enjoy a bigger variety of food.
In ‘our’ house and in our storage, we found bits and pieces of ourselves. Memories and reminders that this, too, is our life and a place we have belonged. And will belong again. We unpacked and shopped…and are still in the process of making it home. But it will come.
When Jesus sent out the 72 disciples to heal the sick and declare the kingdom of God, they returned amazed at their exploits. But Jesus immediately silenced them by saying, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy and nothing will harm you. However do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)
Perhaps Jesus discerned that these zealous disciples were focusing on the wrong thing. The work they did. Perhaps they were attaching their identity and worth to their success and the thrill of seeing God at work. And Jesus was jealous of their focus. He simply said, “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
In the ache of letting go, the shock of change, the groping for identity, I am comforted and chastened by a whisper from God. “Rejoice that your name is written in heaven. That is enough.”
According to a survey done with various pastors, (Reentry by Peter Jordan) cross cultural workers often return to their passport country with a tinge of restless criticism. The materialism and problems in the church are like burrs under their collar and many set out to change things. Hmmm. Many of the pastors surveyed said “returned missionaries” are hard to work with. They become learners in another culture, go through agonizing months of language learning, and often a host of disappointments and set-backs. They grow a lot of spiritual muscle. But then seem clueless on how to gracefully become a part of their own culture again. The better-than-thou spirit and criticism only further alienate them from their church, often making the reentry stage harder then any of the cultural learning they waded through in their host culture. Reading this book helped me identity problem points in my own heart. I learned a foreign language and culture, often working through misunderstandings and frustrations because that is what I was supposed to do in order to thrive there. Perhaps taking on the same learner mindset in the church and culture stateside would aid in the adjustment between two worlds and help me thrive here as well. That is really exciting to me. I don’t need to compare cultures, love one and react to the other. In each there’s beautiful expressions of God’s church and His people. In each place there’s beautiful people doing his work. To be a part of two diverse cultures, two places where God is at work, is a gift. And I am so thankful for both of our worlds.
“The universe is Thine. I am at home… to Thee this land is well-loved and known.” -Marilyn F. Martin