When we left Mexico almost two months ago, as much as I loved Mexico and knew I'd miss my friends there, I was excited to be going "home". We've spent the last two months traveling and visiting friends and family. The longer we're here, however, the more I realize that this really isn't "home" any more. I'm still excited to be here and look forward to seeing friends and meeting new people. But I've come to realize that "home" isn't really as cut and dry a concept as I used to believe.
Definitely, "home" is wherever my family is. Even the most temporary residence can feel like "home" as long as my family is with me.
We had people say to us when we arrived in Mississippi, "welcome home!" In the most technical sense, I guess this is the closest thing to "home" we've had since we first got married--it's certainly where we've spent the most time (at this point, ten out of our sixteen years of marriage were spent here). But even Mississippi doesn't feel like "home" anymore. Perhaps that's because we gave up our house and put all of our belongings in storage when we left for Costa Rica two years ago.
I can't tell you how many people said to me, "Just wait until you go back. It's not going to be the same. It won't feel like 'home' anymore." I listened but shrugged off this advice, reasoning to myself that, as it's only been two years, what could change? How could things be that different in such a short amount of time?
And for the most part, things are the same. Oh, there are new buildings and new people in the roles we left. And some folks have moved away.
The biggest difference is that we have changed.
I can't really say that Mexico is "home" yet. I'm not like two of my teammates who have served in Mexico for nearly two decades and feel very at home there.
I think that, as long as the States are "home" to me, I'll struggle with adapting to life in Mexico. Maybe this is not the case for everyone, but I think it is me. I'm not saying I can never feel at home here, but as long as I measure everything I do by how I used to do it in the States, I'll continue to struggle with culture stress on the field.
Last week, I realized that an important shift has taken place. In every place we visited, be it with our families, or at our headquarters in Indiana, or here in Mississippi, I kept waiting for that feeling of "home" to come. Sure, every place we visited (but Abilene--that's a new place for my in-laws since we left two years ago) was familiar. But not "home". Not anymore.
I was initially sad about this until I realized that it means I'm slowly letting go of my life here. The people will always be important to me and I'll always miss seeing them when we're away. But I also think this is a healthy--necessary--step for me to take in order to become the missionary God has called me to be.
And today, I'm grateful that God is helping to bring about this change in me. I look forward with great anticipation to returning to Mexico and really working hard to make the necessary steps to adapt to the culture.
Please pray that God will continue to keep me restless for "home" while we're in the States. We don't want to get too comfortable that we forget where our calling is. Thank you!