Life Here and There By JJ
Coming back to the good ol' USA after living overseas has its upside. We have a renewed appreciation for many things that we used to take for granted. Tacos are much more incredible than I ever remember them to be. There are smooth sidewalks and multi-level libraries with a gazillion books in English. There is an organized democratic process where people vote, by popular demand, for new laws to be enforced, or old laws to be un-enforced. You can find newscasts on TV where the professionals sit around looking really great and laugh at each other’s jokes. They are just so unbelievably friendly! There are these magical places where parents carry collapsible chairs and sit on very well-manicured grass fields as hundreds of children play soccer, one game after another. It's like a noisy city that appears and disappears within hours over and over again for months on end. Amazing. The prayer warriors who have upheld us and the generous donors who have supported us through the Great Commission Fund have been a blessing to meet and we feel so very fortunate to be part of the Kingdom of God here.
There are things we miss about being overseas, though. There were a lot fewer rules to follow there. Stuff was cheaper. Our lives were less spread out and everything we needed on a weekly basis was for the most part, within walking distance. The grocery store, the kids' school, hubby's work, team mates' houses for meetings – these were just a hop, skip and a jump away, which was good because we didn't have a car. Outward and public morality and modesty was still the rule of thumb, so there was less daily assault and worldly captivation of the visual senses via fashion trends and advertisements.
To be perfectly honest, there are new temptations for us to fight that come along with returning to the mother land after seeing and experiencing so many different things out there. We have to guard against the temptation to judge others who have not had the opportunity to go away and come back -which has a way of introducing new objectivity and an expanded world view. We have to refrain ourselves
from slipping into eye- rolling mode when folks here get their feathers
ruffled over minor changes in "the plan". (Like it or not, flexibility has
become a key ingredient for our mental well-being.) When I hear a kid whine about how they are “starving,” I have to gracefully remember they can't possibly know the definition of “starving” because they have never held a 12-pound, one year old like I have. It's not that everyone in Central Asia is starving; it’s just that my path of ministry happened to cross paths with extreme poverty, and I have a harder time now empathizing with echoes of continual dissatisfaction in the land of plenty.
“Home” is a confusing concept. Is home the place where we met and married before we started bouncing all over the world? Is it the first country we took our kids to, or the second? Is it over there or over here? The two questions we get asked most through the year are: "When did ya'll get back?" And "When are ya'll leaving again?" The third
most popular question needs a lot of discernment to answer. When people say, "Tell me all about what you do!" We have to decide if they really wanted the 1-minute answer, the 3-minute answer, or 10-minute answer. We don't have an agenda to make people listen to every detail of 3 years summed up in a few minutes; we just want to be humble advocates for God's heart for the world. The whole world.
I'm sure the year will go by quickly. We have already been able to have a lot of family bonding time, which has been wonderful. Eventually we will gear up to go back, praying for God's vision and power to launch us into another term of effective service for Him. But for now, grandpa and grandma are having their precious time with the grand kids, and we are eating up the full American experience, one taco at a time.