Lonely, Wayfaring Stranger

I made it through two bimesters and four and a half months and I finally get to come home for a break! School finished up on Friday with a half day and because I wanted to save some money and scheduled my flight for Sunday, I now have time to pack leisurely and make sure everything is ready to go. Maybe I have a little too much time on my hands, especially since I do not even have a good book to read because the library has been closed for the past two weeks. I decided doing some reflection and writing a blog post was a better use of time than Facebook.

One thing I have learned during this time is that as much as I am enjoying my experience here, I do not really see myself here long term. Sometimes the year and a half I have left of my contract seems too long. I get homesick for the US and the people there. But then I remember that Mexico does not have to be my home for me to be able to minister here. Maybe I really am more of a homebody by personality than the wandering adventurer, but that does not mean that God does not have purposes for me abroad. I am reminded of when Michael Oh spoke at CIU for World Christian Week. He and his family were Korean, but at the time, were serving as missionaries in Japan. He said that a lot of times when people heard he was a missionary to Japan, they would ask him things like, “So, you must really like sushi, right?” or “Why Japan? What do you like about Japan?”. He said these questions frustrated him because they showed a shallowness of focus. He explained to us some of the history between Japan and Korea and said that by human standards, he had every right to hate Japan. The reason he went to Japan as a missionary was not because life was more enjoyable there, but because he had real faith that Jesus’ death was for the Japanese too. He had grown to have a true love for the Japanese people which shaped his ministry, but his ministry had not been founded on the excitement of adventure or the love of the culture he was going to become a part of.

As a cross cultural worker, I may never feel at home in my host country. I may not like parts of their culture. I may get tired of speaking another language or grow weary of having to worry about safety. In comparison with the task we have been given by our Savior, these things matter very little. In fact, the Bible is clear that no place on earth is truly our home. 2 Corinthians 5 talks about how our longing should be for our heavenly home. Even in our longing, we can be useful to the Lord on earth because He has given us a specific ministry, the ministry of reconciliation, that the world may be reconciled to God. This goal, of reuniting people with the God who made them and died for them, is worth discomfort and suffering.

Another thought I have had during this time is that I really do not want to do cross cultural ministry alone. It gets really lonely being in another country where every social interaction takes effort to make sure your thoughts are being communicated correctly and appropriately. I experience this even in a country with a good evangelical church established. The bond of the Holy Spirit is truly a huge encouragement at these times because it is not limited by language or culture. I am also really thankful for the English-speaking expat community at Lincoln which also offers great encouragement and encouraging relationships. Some of those relationships are starting to become close friendships. I do know that if I go overseas long term, it will probably to a people with less contact with the gospel and not much of an established church. As hard as it is to live in another country among believers, I can imagine how much more taxing it would be to live in another country and have contact with only a few other believers. If this is the challenge that lies ahead, I would really value having a partner from my own culture to be a friend and lend support when things are difficult. Well, the future rests with God and I will continue to enjoy my current experience for what it is and continue to learn from it. Thanks for listening to what I have been musing about.