Home Assignment, it’s a term that is new to us. After 16 years living full time on the mission field, I need a little time away. I’ve had a difficult time putting into words what I’m thinking and feeling. As I researched I came across the term “home Assignment”. (A time when missionaries return to their home country to strengthen their relationship with family, friends, and supporters. A time to further education. A time to step outside of the culture they are working and serving in and refocus to gain perspective. ) Yes that is what I need!
We have been working so hard for so long that we never stopped to breath. We ran as if in a race against time, learning language & culture; living hand to mouth, watching God do amazing things, and living under constant spiritual attack. We have been betrayed, beguiled, and belittled. My resolve isn’t what it once was. I am tired. Tired of sprinting this marathon. It is time to catch my breath.
In speaking of mission work, Karl Dahlfred wrote”…there is a certain level of culture stress that never goes away. Living day in and day out in a culture with different values, beliefs, and language than your own can create … stress. You can never fully identify or understand the people around you, nor they you.” Wow, I can identify with his statement.
I’ve passed through many stages in the years we have lived in Mexico. First we had to learn the language. After we understood the words, we had to work on comprehension. We could know every word that a person was saying and still entirely miss the meaning. Then we began to understand the nuances of the language and culture and that was even worse than not knowing. In this stage we found ourselves asking questions like, “Did he really say what I think he said?” or “Certainly I didn’t understand her correctly!” This was a frustrating season. But after many years we felt right at home in Mexico. We could communicate with others and understood the basics of situations, but as we got older there was one profound notion that began to ring true with both of us. “We will always be the outsiders, the foreigners, the ones that don’t belong!” We will never fully understand all the idiosincrasias of living in a culture not our own and we will never truly be at home there. That is a heavy burden to bear.
So we’ve come to the fork in the road and after 16 years we decided to step away an take a little time. A break from 24/7 crisis management, a break from Mexico, a break from putting out fires and struggling to live in a foreign country.
It’s strange sitting in the crisp air of the Tennessee mountains. It’s so quiet here, I hear the crickets chirp and the fish splash in the pond and I’m reassured that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.