Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On Being a Missionary

Right now I feel decidedly out of my habitat. I am here, not there. I am in a place where I should feel "home". It isn't my home, but it is so close that I ought to feel home. I ought to feel blessed. I am here. I can go get ice-cream, pizza, clean packaged meat. I even found a Cinnabun today and bought one - big mistake... I was trying on swimsuits... that is damaging enough to the ego, why try to fix it with a cinnabun?

There are times I do feel blessed. I am here, not there.

And there are times I feel so desperately lonely, homesick. I want to be there, not here. I want to be where I grew up. (Ok, not necessarily the country because there were a few, but over there, not here in what should be home.) I never thought I would be raising my kids here, not there. I wonder at times if they will become like people who have lived here all their lives. Will I be able to relate to them or will they be "at home" here and I will never be? Will their lives have all the different facets that mine does from growing up over there?

I'm adapting well. I'm fitting in and even learning to dress appropriately. I've learned that this here has different standards and expectations in dress and behavior from where my home church is. I've learned the language well enough to fit in with all its differences and nuances. Yes, it is my mother tongue, but this is not how we spoke this tongue. I had to learn what was normal here. I fit in now. I have a few good friends that I can count on and think I am secure with.

Two of my friends and I sat around the coffee pot this morning talking about one of their sessions they had had. She had read The Shack and then had heard the author's testimony. She said she was shocked, that she had no idea things like that could happen to missionary kids. Even leaving the abuse aside, she said she did not realize how he saw the world and how his world changed so much in moves.

They both turned to look at me. I had not heard his testimony, but I had heard people talk about it. I shared some of my past, the abuse, yes, but not only that - just the differences. She wondered how he ever fit in here after all that. I smiled. I said, "I think I fit in ok here, and am fairly comfortable with you all, but there is still a part of me that never will. There is always a part of me that feels like I am standing on the outside looking in, missing my home and my community. I am ok here, but every once in a while, I just want to take off alone - go for a walk and get away from people." It is as if I do fit in, but not all of me fits in. Part of me lives in another place with deep connections to people who I may only know for a few weeks to a few years, but are part of our missionary family.

My friend said the best thing one could have. She said, "I can understand that you feel like that, although we will likely never ever "get" that part of you, but I can understand that it is there."

I'm at home here. And I'm not. I miss my home. I miss being in the missionary community - having that connection to people who work with us who are not even from my same country or speak my language, but are our family. Like it or not sometimes, but they are "us".

I hope to go back "over there" one day. It may not happen. I hope it does, but it may not. What we have to do right now may be only able to be done from here. I try not to think long term. I try not to. I don't think I have the strength today to face being here forever. At the same time, I'm not excited about moving, either. Not again.

I want to go home. I remember what my grandma told me, "Little one, you have a forever home coming." One with no more goodbyes. One where I am as much at home there as anyone else. One where I will not always feel like half of me wants to be somewhere else. Where I finally feel complete.

Until then. Until then, we live one day at a time.


MoziEsmé said...

Are you me? Honestly - we are back in the US from Mozambique as of January, and were actually planning to head to Zimbabwe in February/March, only to have the doors slam shut in March. So we're not sure what we are doing. Home, but not really. I enjoyed this post very much.

Cindy said...

wow, it is a little bit eerie, how you just expressed everything I have been feeling the last few months! it is comforting to know I'm not alone :)

Kacie said...

Yep - though I never experienced abuse, the sense of not belonging and never being home or fitting in plagues me too, as an adult mk.

Paul Young of The Shack grew up where I did... just years before me.

Shan in Japan said...

Yep, me, too. Although I grew up in the same country as my parents, once I got to the field I felt like I had arrived home. My first 'home assignment' I kept talking about how homesick I was. No one got it. My parents and sister tried to understand. I never feel homesick on the field!

E. T. Tenna said...

Me five!

There was a glad, glad day when I read a book on TCK's. I was comforted to know much of what I was, the way I seemed always on the outside edge of any group I was a part of, to name just one characteristic, was what most TCK's experienced.

Parts of me really began to grow in Him then.


Cindy said...

Great post Ellie!