Tonight, I've been scrolling through the "home" page on Pinterest, admiring all the autumn pictures and pins on how to decorate your home for the season. And I love it. Really. Honestly, it's been over a decade since I really, truly experienced a traditional autumn season (autumn in the South is not the same as a Midwestern autumn. For one thing, except in rare places, you don't have the wide assortment of colorful leaves. Pine needles don't turn gorgeous shades of red or orange), and we are literally surrounded by a forest of trees atop the gentle slopes the missionary homes sit on. Autumn will be great this year.
So what's the problem? I mean, I can think of several of my missionary friends serving on foreign fields who are ready to temporary block my Facebook posts if I make one more mention of autumn or share one more picture of changing leaves.
Tonight, I miss having my own home. The funny thing about that statement is that we've never had our own home. We've rented or lived in parsonages for all sixteen years of our marriage. My biggest dream before receiving my missionary calling was to get married, buy a home, and raise our family in the same home. And because that is a dream I've had to give up, as not too many missionaries own their own homes, I've learned to enjoy making our rental homes truly ours.
The problem, of course, is that this is not our house. Not our furniture. Not my kitchen stuff. Not even my linens. And certainly none of my decorations (every autumn, before departing for language school and the field, I had an entire bin of decorations I loved to put out. And in Mexico, there is another bin of autumn decorations waiting for us when we get back). Just two months ago, I couldn't wait to get here and finally unpack after two months of living out of suitcases and traveling around. I was so thrilled to have a place to put everything! Yes, when I think about what we could be doing--living with family members or friends--I am grateful for this home and the opportunity to be here as a family. To really be able to let our hair down at the end of the day.
Perhaps only another missionary wife will understand that this is not just a grown woman whining and throwing herself a pity party. I believe it stems from something deeper.
As missionaries, there are so many transitions we have to make. We pack everything up in our homes (or sell everything; I know many families who literally arrived in language school with what they could fit in their allotted baggage, having sold everything else before they left), say goodbye to our families, and settle in to language school (for those who learn language away from their fields, anyway). After we've completed language school, we pack everything up again, say goodbye to the friends we've made, and leave for our fields. At the end of our first four year term, we pack everything up, say goodbye to friends and teammates, and return to our passport countries for furlough--a process that involves many transitions as we travel to raise support, often taking a couple years. Then, we return to our fields after more packing and another round of goodbyes to start the process again. If the missionaries are blessed to be moving back into the same house, some of the transitions are easier. But if they must look for a new house with each new term...
We women are innate nesters. We have this inner desire to build a "nest" for our families. And when we can't do it because of circumstances outside of our control, we get antsy. Maybe even a little sad.
This is where I now am. It is not something I expected to feel when we came home from the field. Especially knowing we'd move into provided housing. I am, however, thankful for the cinnamon stick Yankee Candle I was able to get with my birthday money. And I'm thankful for the other autumn scented candles I'll bring back from my collection at mom's next month.
This is something else you can pray for when you pray for the missionaries you know and support. And if you have any friends who are missionary wives, just be patient with her when she unexpectedly gets the urge to redecorate your home when visiting. She probably can't help herself.