|I read 90% of the book while enjoying a cup of chai and a toasty fire|
[Note: The following are excerpts from Adam's book.]
Definition of Home
It's been said that home is where the heart is. For many missionaries, the significance of that place tends to fade over time. Home becomes two places and not place at all.
The heart of a missionary points at once toward their family home (old friends, relatives, places, and culture) and toward their current missions home (new friends, adopted family, places, and culture.
It's absolutely necessary to engage your mission at the heart level
if you're to have any hope of lasting long-term.
The home you left (however long ago) no longer exists. People change, families move away, and life goes on. Same is what you want. You want familiarity when you return to your former home. You want a life you can settle into like a comfortable old arm chair. But someone has replaced that old chair with a fancy new one. It might not be a bad chair; it might even be better than the old one. But it's not the same.
As one missionary friend put it, "I don't feel at home anywhere. Wherever I am, I long for the other place."
Most people who have never lived abroad can't begin to imagine that you actually enjoy your life. They understand, at least in party, the concept of missionary calling, but few can comprehend that you might actually prefer living where you do to living 'back home'.
For many missionaries, the idea of moving 'home' is terrifying. In fact, many who have lived abroad for years struggle mightily to adapt upon returning to their native country.
Missionary life is never as simple as it appears.
Everything is complex.
Trips home are emotional roller coasters, swirling from elation to despair to anticipation to fear. The same occurs on the return trip, as the familiarity of the host country brings a sense of relief, but the people, places, and life left behind seem to call out from the beyond the aircraft doors.
Like a ship torn from its moorings, missionaries are adrift at sea between their two homes. To fully embrace one is to lose the other - a choice few would choose to make. There are certain parts of missionary life that are permanent. Loss of a home is one. Once you become a missionary, you are never native again.
We don't get it because it isn't our life. Our job - as sending churches, supporters, family, and friends - is not to fix it or even to fully understand it. Our job is to listen, empathize, and lessen the blow. We should be asking, "What can I do to help?"
May we strive to help our missionary friends embrace this reality
and live well in their odd and exciting multi-home-and-no-home world.
[more excerpts to come in part 3]