This time last year, I looked ahead to our year of furlough. I anticipated seeing friends and family again after a four year absence, and I couldn’t wait for a break from cross cultural living. I can say overall it has been wonderful to catch up with people face to face, and that has been the best part of furlough.
It truly has been a break for us from other things, like cross cultural stress, community living and the daily tasks, especially cooking from scratch. Last week when we started talking about our return to PNG in earnest, I realized that I am finally looking forward to returning to PNG because that is where my heart is. Even when I picture my life there: waking up early to go to the market, making bread, and hanging up clothes to dry, it didn’t seem to bother me. It surprised me to realize that I want to return! I can’t say I’m looking forward to the other stressors but I feel like I can cope better with them, now that I’ve had a break from them.
I think it all boils down to belonging, and where that happens for us as a family. We have been away from the U.S. long enough that PNG is now our home: that is where we fit in, where our work in Bible translation happens. It’s also where we’ve raised our kids, and where their deepest friendships are, not just with kids their own age, but with other missionaries who have watched them grow up and have celebrated birthdays, holidays and milestones with us.
Thirteen years ago, we joined the ranks of ‘overseas workers’ or ‘global nomads’ as some like to call us, and we can’t ever really come home again and be who we were before. Even though we know this intellectually, it seems that this furlough especially has highlighted this, and it has been hard for all of us.
So now, I’m looking ahead to what needs to happen in the months ahead of us. We are going to be busy: preparing and packing for a shipment, getting medical clearance for each of us, looking at what medicines and other supplies we need to take for our next term overseas. I need to apply for a work permit. Those things I am NOT looking forward to at all. In fact, I feel an anxious bubble rising in my stomach when I think about them.
In the midst of all of this, God gave me these verses to hold onto:
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:7-9
I belong to Christ and because of that, only His view of me matters. I love this song by Jason Gray because it reminds me that I belong to Christ
I hope that by the end of 2015, I will have grown to the point where His answer to the question “Who am I?” will just be a part of my natural life, as easy as breathing in and out.
And that’s what I want to keep in focus for 2015. Of course I’d love to improve myself…but…everything comes after knowing Christ more.