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?
- It’s so loud.
- Why is the sun still up?
- Every single thing I eat here is better than every single thing I ate in Rwanda.
- 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.