I’m sure I will be apologizing a lot over the next few months, mostly because I will fail to meet someone’s expectations of me. So as the apologies have already begun, I thought I would pull back the veil and let people into this topsy, turvy thing we call “transition.” Especially in light of the myriad of questions I have been bombarded with over the three weeks I have been back in the States.
I’ve spent the last few years in another country(Kenya), but I also spent two years prior to that preparing to move there. The preparation and the living cross-culturally is a book in and of itself. You devote yourself to the calling, the living, and all that is wrapped up into surviving(no exaggeration) a life overseas.
And then God calls you back “home.”
If you’ve had any level of success, you now consider your host country “home.” So how do you leave home? The simple answer is you don’t.
I had three months to pack up, close up, and gear up for the countless goodbyes that awaited my departure from my beautiful, eclectic, hot and humid, wonderful home. A home that enlarged my family by a few dozen boys, gave me the priceless blessing of a family made up of teammates and fellow sojourners, striving to honor God through their walking in obedience, and stretched me to the absolute lengths that I never thought possible only to feel God’s smile as I clung on to Him for dear life.
Goodbye can be welcome or a slap in the face. It’s welcome when you’ve know you’ve come to the end of your task and are ready to move on to whatever God has in store for you next. The slap in the face goodbye follows a strong sensing from God that He has a new direction for you, just as you have grown comfortable and content with where you are(finally!). That is where I found myself. If the choice were mine(being honest here), I would be settling in for at least a few more years of hot, coastal living in Kenya. You’d find me beginning a new project of repairs in my flat(neverending) or having a nice glass of rose water with my ESL ladies. But let me make myself clear here, I am glad I am not making the decisions, because God’s ways are always better than mine! I speak from experience.
Where does that knowledge leave me?
Well…sometimes it means I’m sad(as I sit here crying writing this right now). I’m reminded of my precious boys and feeling guilty for being another person in their life that has abandoned them. I know that’s not necessarily true, but that doesn’t mean that feeling doesn’t creep in. It means that sometimes I dont want to talk. Let me explain that a bit further. It’s not that I don’t want to be in realtionship, but let’s face it, I’ve been gone a while and things have changed and nothing I am thinking about seems relevant to my stateside friends and familly. And sometimes I am preoccupied with making sure my kiddos are processing the transition well. This can take up every waking moment if I let it! I’ve got teenagers, there’s a lot to sift through!
I’m also tired and weary after a few years in the field. Even if you’ve had a great cross-cultural experience, the experience is wearing. It takes a lot more effort to live in another country, amongst a very diverse grouping of people, and navigate all the different cultural norms encompassing these beautiful people. And at the very same time, I find myself overwhelmed in my “home” country by some of the very same things I mentioned above.
So for me, each day I get up and do my best to take all the emotions, memories, and daily tasks as they come, moment by moment often times. I will fail many because they will want more from me then I can readily give just yet. And I pray somehow they can be patient with me. So If I have already failed you my friend or family member, I’ll ask for your forgiveness(it won’t be the last). But ultimately, I am trusting God to carry me through this process of transition.