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Homesick

Homesick….

I hesitate to write about this, because I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I am not pining away and not eating and wasting into nothing. (more like the opposite).

My question is, why do we feel homesick? Or more correctly, why do I feel homesick? Why can’t I live to the fullest where I am right now instead of thinking of what used to be, and being pulled back to the past? Why can’t I embrace to the fullest this dream that has been God’s and mine for so long- serving Him where ever He leads? When I was at home, I was homesick for this country. Last year when I was here, I was homesick for home. Am I just some wavering, emotional person who can’t be satisfied with what God gives, or is there something deeper? Is there another reason I get homesick?

I know I’ve wrestled through this before, this feeling of longing for something that is no more. I went through it at the age of 16 when I left our home for a week to help my cousin with her newborn baby. That one week felt like a year. I cried every night, lost weight, and counted down the days until I could go home again. That was one week. One week!

Sometimes at times like this, especially in the morning, one little thing, or item, or thought, or word, can stir up a memory of things that used to be, and we long for those people again, and home, or even those other hardships that seem easier to bear now that they are in the past and time has smoothed away the pain. Childhood memories, things I haven’t thought about for ages, come rushing back. And yet, my question is, why, why, do I find it so hard to embrace the present, and live life to the fullest when I am in the moment, instead of waiting until it is past to realize how much it meant to me? Like right now, why can’t I embrace to the fullest what I am experiencing right now, instead of missing the things that are past?

And I wonder, where is home exactly?

Usually I try to tell myself, just get over it. Being homesick shows you don’t have the ability to live in the present, and you’re never satisfied or grateful with what you have. You’re not there, you’re here. Get over it. (that doesn’t really work.)

But then something else says, wait. Perhaps there is something deeper than what you are seeing now.

Perhaps the real reason we get homesick is because we really weren’t created to have this world as our home. We get homesick for our earthly home because deep inside, where perhaps we don’t even realize it, we are homesick for our real home, for what actually is reality. The home we’ll never leave once we get there.

And knowing this, I let myself grieve the past.

October, 2014

So often in the morning as I awake

In the early hours of the dawn

When snatches of a windblown dream

Dance on the edges of my awakening

My heart is turned to home

And fleeting sprites of memories

Wisp in and out of my thoughts

And my heart that is still not large enough

Aches with the loss of what it cannot have

And longs to embrace what it does have.

Then in the presence of these memories

That danced in my half-awakened dream

I give in to the pain of being mortal

And unable to understand it all

And then I bow my head, and let the… tears… fall…

Of things that go bump in the night

It is night once more and once more I cannot sleep.

But this time there is a different reason- a resident under my bed. We met about a month ago when he appeared from beneath my bed in broad daylight. For a while I wasn’t sure if I should play the part of the brave strong, pith-helmet-clad missionary and aim valiantly at the rodent or if I should act the part of the pale, heroic, languishing maiden and befriend the wee mouse and feed him crumbs, but since I don’t really fit any of the latter description, I decided to go with the former instead, even though I don’t necessarily fit that description instead. Neither was he a wee mouse. At all. He was (and sadly still is) a rat.

I don’t mind mice. They are actually rather cute. But rats are a different story. ESPECIALLY if they are trying to eat my precious snacks.

Usually we get along quite well. Whenever I hear rustlings of any sort under my bed, I will give a nice respectful thump on my bed, and he will do a nice respectful getaway. But the respect part has been rubbing away, and tonight as I was just drifting off, I heard him. Quite clearly and quite boldly, bumping something.

I sat up in bed and emitted some sort of roar. It was the sort of roar you emit when it is 12 o’clockish at night and you are awakened by a rat and you want to throw something and you don’t have anything handy and so you sort of let out a strangled yell/grunt/bellow/rumble. Yeah. Like that! Exactly! And it disappeared. And for a moment I thought I was dreaming.

The two oldest children of my host family and their mom were still awake. I decided not to say anything and try to go back to sleep. Meanwhile I heard them discussing the yell/grunt/bellow/rumble they had heard, and where it came from.

Meanwhile the rat decided to make another appearance. Again I didn’t have anything handy, so I sat up in bed and thumped the bed and again made some sort of noise (but this time without the foghorn effects) and it scuttled under the bed.

This time my efforts attracted the attention of the children, and thus began a jolly rat hunt under my bed. I was handed a club-like thing (I don’t know what it’s called)leftover from a Tae Kwon Doe class and the hunt was on, but it turned out to be fruitless. The Son climbed up as well, and the Oldest Girl dived under my bed and nearly got stuck in the process.

But no rat was found. I doubt that he will appear again tonight.

I feel like the Son and the Oldest Girl quite enjoyed the hunt. As I tried to settle down again, they were still calling up comforting phrases to my room.

“I hope you are ok tonight!” “You know sometimes rats bite people.” “Yeah a rat bit my grandmother once!” “It can really hurt!”

Thank you. I appreciate it very much!

Decisions

Tonight I find it hard to sleep. A hundred thousand needs dance before my eyes. When I close my eyes to sleep, it seems all I see are doors standing wide open.

Today I did a border run to the country beside the one I live in right now. Going there brought back memories of a trip last year, a trip to a sunburnt village nestled in the emerald green of rice fields, where roads run brown and red, poverty is strikingly obvious, and children with browner skin than what I see here ran barefoot through the never ending mud. Something in me tugged viciously today as I travelled over the border for only ten minutes and came back.

And yet, I am quite sure that God brought me to this country for a reason as well – the vision of a pastor and his daughter, and amazing one, and one I would be honored to be a part of, not to mention a handful of other opportunities.

Still, yet something else tugs at my heart as well. Some of my own people back in my homeland need Jesus. Few Christians realize that. And who could tell them better than me, when there is no need to learn another language and culture?

I hate decisions, even though they bring the scent of exciting changes and adventure. There are always too many different elements to consider…. “Is this what God wants or what I want?” “Is this just a symptom of dissatisfaction with what I have or is it a real call?” “The decision I make- is it out of what God has dictated or does it come from trying to please people?”

Eventually sleep will come tonight and eventually, I know, direction will come as well.

“Shew me thy ways, O Lord, and teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth and teach me for thou art the God of my salvation and on Thee do I wait all the day long.” Psalms 25:4,5

Freedom

God, I just want to live.

Right now, I feel like I am living in one of the best times of my life. Or what could be the best time of my life. I’m living out a dream, a God-given one, in another country, learning to speak another language and interacting with people I love.

I live with a native family. I love them to pieces and they love me back in more pieces.

I get to teach English to two delightful Catholic nuns 3 times a week at an HIV orphanage.

I have a pet monkey.

I get to walk beside new believers and see their faces light up at learning the simple, yet amazing truths of God’s Word.

I get to tell the story of Jesus to those who don’t know him.

I get to watch the passion of native evangelists as they seek to bring their own people back to their Creator.

I get to watch the potential of young children being unlocked and blossoming.

There is so much joy in every day.

Opportunities abound. It seems like no door is left unopened. Except one. So many others are open that I find it difficult to know which door  to walk through.

The one door I want to walk through the most leads to deeper freedom.

Healing.

Belief.

Hope.

Freedom from a tangled, messed up belief system that is self-focused, confused, forgetful and ungrateful, fearful, carrying guilt and expectations and “shoulds.”

Not the kind of belief system that a follower of Jesus should have.

Sometimes I wonder if in this journey of seeking and searching for a deeper communion with my Father, if God might want me to stay in  this bondage so that I continue to thirst so badly for Him, because I know I didn’t used to be like this.

And yet, God never wants us in bondage. It is for freedom that He has set us free.

It is His passionate desire that we can experience that freedom.

Freedom from doubt.

Freedom from past mistakes and regrets.

Freedom from double- mindedness.

Freedom from anything that strangles or smothers or suffocates that connection with the God Himself who created the world.

Just think- the God of the universe wants you and I to be free, and free, not just for the sake of freedom, but that we would be trees of righteousness that He might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)

God, I just want to live.