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I’ve been back in the States for two and a half weeks. What are my first impressions upon arriving back to my homeland, you may ask?

  1. It’s so loud.
  2. Why is the sun still up?
  3. Every single thing I eat here is better than every single thing I ate in Rwanda.
  4. There’s no place like home.

It’s just good to be here in America. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s kind of like how I feel about my family. They are comfortable. They aren’t perfect. They accept me with my flaws. I know exactly how they are going to piss me off. But they are my people. This is my homeland. I know it. I know it’s beauty and it’s ugliness, and I love it all.

Number one question asked = do you love it there?

Um. No. Love is a strong word. I love parts of living there. I love the people who I have met. I love how the experience is changing me. I love the part of Jesus that I see there. But I don’t love it there.

Here’s what has been revealed to me in my 2.5 weeks back on American soil. Every single day in Rwanda was hard. It was a sacrifice. It was a fast.

I think I wanted to ignore that reality. It felt weak and pathetic to think that life was hard while people around me did back-breaking labor for pennies, while missionaries live on the prayers of others, while my family suffered in our absence. I was (am) embarrassed that it was so hard.

But it wasn’t the small things like cold water and rats that made it so hard. (It didn’t help, though!) It was the big things. Loneliness. Boredom. Hopelessness. Depression. Anger. Doubt. Sadness.

It was the questions. Are we helping or hurting? Is there anything that can help this immense suffering and injustice? Do our families hate us? Do our friends remember us? Is God really good? Does God even care? Did we make a huge mistake?

By peeling back some creature comforts and placing myself in another world, the ground beneath me came as quicksand. I no longer knew which way was up. I doubted every single thing in my life that I used to believe so strongly. When I stepped on the plane to return home, I was utterly depleted and exhausted on a deeper level than the physical.

So where am I now? I am refilling. Time with family and friends has been rejuvenating. Life-giving conversations with people who love me and treat my broken, bleeding self with tender love restore my hope. I’m slowly coming back to Jesus, praying that he have mercy on me. I’m sleeping and eating, placing one foot in front of the next.

Another question that comes up – am I excited to return? Today? Absolutely not. I’m not ready. I am healing, refueling, resting. I’m trusting that I will come back stronger.

This is the work of the refiner. It’s painful, bloody work. I want to know the depth of my sin and the reality of the world’s brokenness. This knowledge draws me to the true source of life – the healer, the savior. Only there am I truly home.

FWP

The title of this blog should really be “First World Problems while living in the Developing World.”  For today’s installment, let’s talk about how bad my hair looks here.  I have nice hair, but the only way it looks good is if the conditions are right.  I have zero patience or skills to actually style my hair so natural has to be the way it works.  In this dry Rwandan climate combined with my shower’s low water pressure, my hair looks terrible all the time.  Also, I’m not a fan of the current length.  You feel so sorry for me, don’t you?

Also, I packed wrong.  (Alternatively, it could be that I’m just terrible at anything fashion-related.  I never seem to look as put together as the rest of the world.)  Is there anything more depressing than spending 3 months thinking about what to pack only to come and determine that you should have packed differently?  I never want to know how much of my life has been a complete waste of time.  It has to be over 80%.

The best news of the week is that we have hot water!!  It’s quite amazing what a hot shower does to my outlook on life.  I went from the pit of despair on Sunday to being a completely new woman after my shower on Monday.  (Yes, BB loves my mood swings!)

Seriously though, there’s no doubt that comfort is an idol of mine.  I don’t really need approval or success (obviously), but I really need my comforts.  I need hot water, no bugs, a soft bed, delicious meals, chocolate, coffee.  Take these away, and you will get an eye twitch from having to deal with me (sorry honey!).

I’m not proud of this part of my sin nature.  I truly have some desires to be that totally earthy chick who eats beets for a meal, loves a cold shower and thinks nothing of using an outhouse.  She sounds amazing!  I would like to be her friend.   I bet she runs seven minute miles without sweating and doesn’t even eat chocolate!  She’s probably a size 0 too.

Thank the Lord that he loves me anyway.   And I’m thankful that he keeps bringing these challenges to my life.  He has bestowed grace sufficient for my weakness and even a hot shower as well.