As we prepare for the 1st Home Assignment (furlough) I am left with a growing set of odd feelings. We haven’t experienced this process yet. We have only just now completing our first term as missionaries here in Barranquilla. So, to process feelings about leaving and “going home” has been unique. In under a month we will close up our lives here, say some tough goodbyes, cry some, laugh some and then take off for Georgia. It isn’t like mourning a loss, well, at least not as of right now. But it does feel like this is “home” now. In three plus years living in Latin America our lives have changed. We have changed. The truth of it is, God has changed us.
I am not sure missionaries ever stop having those random cultural bad days or occasional struggles of, “are we doing what God wants?” But Gods work is visible in Angel, our girls, and me. We can see it in the way we live. We can see it in our interactions. As I was sitting at my computer preparing to type this a verse came to my mind. 2 Corinthians 3:18 which brought this home for me.
18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
When we accepted Christ, the Holy Spirit entered our body, spirit, mind (whichever you care to use!). The Holy Spirit not only helps us access our abilities, but He applies those gifts to our lives. The Holy Spirit works through us and give us POWER to produce good for God. In my case God is doing all of that here in Barranquilla, the northern coast, and in Colombia. He is doing it through my business acumen and my love to get to know people. No, it doesn’t say in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that I will be transformed in an easy way. But our family has been vocal about God changing us in ways and that has changed our reality of home.
I need to make a quick stop here. A quick stop to say a rather important thing. This doesn’t mean we don’t love the south, nor does it mean we have turned our backs on the people there. We miss our family deeply; we miss out on hanging out with cherished relationships. Those things can’t be replaced here in Colombia. Really, we don’t want to “replace” anyone or anything. Our family is who we are today because of where we came from and who we came from! Saying Barranquilla is home can be hurtful I guess to those relationships and family. Another reason the reality of home is complicated and tenuous at times.
It will be unique to take in the sites, changed faces, and new things when we get to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. When we talk about it at dinner or in car rides it is always in wonderment. Angel and I have both gone back for conferences or fundraising but without the kids. Seeing it through their eyes adds a whole new element. When you leave a place for years, especially going to a country like Colombia it changes perspective. We have had to learn different ways of doing things, adapting to cultural norms, and just being different. We do things daily that in the United States just don’t happen. Some that have visited us have used the word, contrasting or difficult. We just know it as where we live. Coming back to the US, for a period of longer than a few weeks; will be unique if not odd.
We have been incredibly fortunate as missionaries. We have developed a decent grasp on the language (well, at least Angel and the girls!). We have caring, loving relationships here in the city. Our prayer & financial partners at home in the United States have been so loving and loyal. We have experienced a lot but all safely. Looking ahead to getting on the flight home, with it being close has put all this in perspective. I do know that we will be getting on the plane with trepidation, a sort of nervous anticipation. And no, I don’t consider that a negative thing. It is all a part of this journey of being an international missionary and I am embracing each part.