A warm hello to you and your family! I am currently in Turkey, where the weather is actually above zero, so that is really nice. I hope I can bring back some of the snow that has blanketed much of Central Asia so it will be a ‘White Christmas.’ As much of a pain it was to walk in slushy, icy snow every day, I think I will miss it.
This past week my HO friends and I had some debrief sessions that were really helpful in preparing us to be proactive in the process of ‘re-entry shock’. This is similar to culture stress or culture shock, but related to one’s original culture. I remember going through this after my first trip to a third world country. After returning from Rwanda, I was a little bit annoyed with a couple aspects of American culture, one being materialism. I wondered why I had a car and why I spent money to wash it when I could be doing better things with my money and resources. I anticipate re-entry shock from being gone six months will be quite different than before, yet in some ways still similar. The day I go into Wal-mart or any other major retail store might be a bit difficult.
Sitting in airports has given me a lot of time to think and reflect back on my semester abroad experience. There are so many emotions going on as I am heading home. First and probably the most significance is sadness. It was heart-breaking to leave the friends I had made after only knowing them a short time. Some of them I feel like I have known them my whole life. Those are the friendships I am eternally grateful for because I know we will keep in touch and continue to encourage one another in our walks with Papa. My leaving has also made my local friends sad. I was messaging one of my dearest Sisters here after we had said goodbye and she told me that even though we had both been very busy this semester and had little time to get to know one another deeply, she was so grateful for the time we had together. She said that saying goodbye to me and my roommates was different than saying goodbye to past semester students. She used the English word ‘anguish,’ which is a uniquely strong word. This touched me very deeply. I will always remember her and her smile and will continue to lift her up to Papa.
Another emotion is happiness, the complete opposite. I just love that I am leaving so close to the holidays because coming home will be a sweeter experience. I am really looking forward to spending quality time with all of my family the day after I fly in. It is hard to express to people here how happy I am to be going home because I do not want to hurt any feelings. The one thing I am most looking forward to is getting hugs from my brother, father, mother, sister and Ashley.
I am waiting for my flight that I missed so I have a lot of ‘quiet time’ ahead. I have read the last letter from my friend and it was very encouraging for me. She explained that more than anything, I will probably join the ranks of those who are known as “restless wanderers” – the ones who feel homeless and unsettled. No matter where I am, a part of my heart will always be somewhere else. I will always seem just a little “different,” a little strange to others, and that is perfectly okay. Father has given me incredible and stellar experiences and I am ready to share with people about my love for Central Asian people, those who have become my dear friends. I am prepared to coach others in a heart for the nations as well. I may feel a little out of place being home, but I am never out of place in my Father’s mind. I am exactly where He wants me.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young-- a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. <Selah>
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty; listen to me, O God of Jacob. <Selah>
Look upon our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one.
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.