I’m a late processor (as if you couldn’t tell that from my emotional breakdown a month after leaving Uganda) and lately, I’ve been processing my two years in Uganda. It's been nine months since I left and I'm just getting to this. Like I said, late processor. There was obviously so much good. It’s home. I love it. It’s where so many loved ones are. It's where my heart is. I am literally aching to move back for good. However, there were definitely bad and difficult times. It’s those things that I’ve been processing through. The hurt. The betrayal. The fear.
Last week was my mission agency’s annual spiritual renewal conference where the entire worldwide missions family comes together and seeks the face of God. It was so freeing to talk to people who could understand. Not in a “I understand the words that are coming out of your mouth” kind of way but a deep heart understanding. Most of my Uganda field was there which made it like a family reunion (dramatic running hugs included). Since I’ve been processing some of the more difficult times, it has been indescribably freeing to talk about this with people who truly deeply understand what I went through as well as what I’m still going through.
There’s something about communing with missionaries. There’s this deep understanding that we have of each other. They could live in Austria and though I live in Uganda, we have this deeper understanding of each other and the struggles of every day life. It amazed me how quickly we would delve into deep conversations. Five minutes in and we were talking about the difficulties of reverse culture shock and struggles in our lives.
Bonus: we can also talk with much expertise on international airports.
I felt insanely honored to even be there. I was surrounded by these amazing men and women who have spent the last 20? 30? 40? years of their lives serving God throughout the world. My two years looks rather pitifully small next to them. They are my heroes. The wrinkles on their faces crinkled with wisdom. The gray hairs on their heads spoke of the experiences that they have had. They have gone before my generation and marked the trail. I kept thinking of Hebrews 12: "all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on" (Message).
Someday…I want to be like them.
I have incredible friends here in America. I’m constantly humbled by their love that crosses the thousands of miles between us. Sadly, no matter how much they can try to understand, they can’t. It’s been a heartbreaking discovery. As friends, you want someone else to understand you completely and where you’re coming from. There’s been this sense of loneliness knowing that no one else can fully understand what I went through nor what I’m going through now. There have been some heart sinking moments in my time here in the States where I have realized that it’s just not possible for them to truly understand, no matter how hard each of us tries. How can I ever fully put into words what it’s like to no longer have a home culture? To not feel at home in the place that I was born and raised. To not fit in with my home culture nor the culture where I now live. This sense of homelessness and the frustrations that come with that. The difficulty of remembering how to act/talk/socialize in American culture. Feeling overwhelmed by the fast pace American decision making. Trying to think of the English word for something and only thinking of it in another language. And more…and more…
This is the life of this missionary and from what I’ve gathered, many others as well. It’s difficult in ways that most can never understand. It’s also more exciting and fulfilling than anything else that I have ever been a part of.
I mentioned these struggles to a friend and they replied, “it must give you a greater understanding that this world is not your home”. While at the time I didn’t appreciate that response (the sense of homelessness isn’t quite a good feeling), it is true. This world is not my home. I look forward to the day that all of my friends and family throughout the world are in one place, glorifying His name. A place where cultures will all come together and we will all have one everlasting home. What a party it will be! Can you even begin to imagine? God's beautiful diverse creation all in one place, the boundaries of culture and language no longer holding us apart. Together. In one voice. Praising our King.
Yes, that’s when I’ll truly be home…