January 7, 2012

Home, Sweet Home?

Christmas break is done; we finished our whirlwind tour of the Midwest. After three weeks of Christmas parties, games, a lot of talking, and a lot of eating, we are at the Grand Rapids airport. We are gathering our luggage and preparing to say goodbye. I turn around and I see it again.

My mom is crying. 

It’s not like we have never had to say goodbye before. We have shared thousands of the easy, casual, “see you later” goodbyes that happened every school morning from age 4 to 18, as well as many weekend nights in high school. But we have also shared a few of the emotional, rather gut-wrenching goodbyes, like the first time I left for college, the day I got married, and the first time Collin and I moved to Guatemala.

No matter how much I love Guatemala, and how much I enjoy teaching and being overseas, I will never enjoy having to say goodbye. I know these kinds of goodbyes are never forever, but they are still hard.

Saying goodbye means that the next time you see your nieces and nephews, they are many months older, many steps stronger, and many words smarter. Saying goodbye means that you miss out on watching sisters play basketball and playing late night card games. Saying goodbye means that your life and work are a lot of miles away from the people that know you best. 

Before moving to Guatemala or ever traveling abroad, my dad would often ask me, “Have you counted the cost? Do you realize what it will cost you if you do that?” He was not talking about money. I would often ignore the statement, thinking it might discourage me. But it wasn’t a statement meant to discourage, rather, a simple tidbit of truth.

Moving to a foreign country, no matter how developed it is, comes with a cost. Following God’s will for your life, no matter what it might be, comes with a cost. Luke 14:26-27 says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

God placed a desire in our hearts to move and work here; we chose to move and work here. And most of the time I don’t mind the quirks of living in Guatemala: not being able to flush toilet paper, a cold house, lukewarm showers, Spanish everywhere. But what takes a little extra dose of God’s grace and comfort is being so far away from the people Collin and I call family. It’s not easy.

Thankfully, our break was long enough that I look forward to getting back to work, to seeing the 14 smiling and often toothless faces that remind me why I love living and working here so much. I look forward to getting back to work and also seeing the new co-workers and friends God has blessed us with since moving here, the people that make it a little easier to be far from family. And I look forward to the day when Jesus comes back and my joy and work and life are in the same place as the rest of our family. An eternity to spend with them in heaven is worth the cost of spending life on earth fulfilling God’s calling and will for our lives.

Frederick Buechner once said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

That place for us right now is in Guatemala. But dear family in the north, we miss you already.

Grace and Peace,

A few pictures from our trip home. Unfortunately I was only good at taking pictures the first week.

 Riley and Collin, playing a very intense game of Mario Kart.
 Aubrie and Kaylee at a lovely reunion of friends!
 My niece, Felicity. Also a toothless first grader.
 A wonderful symbol of home, the family table all set for Christmas day. All but one of those bottles are grape juice, so no worries.
 Love these girls. Crazy cousins.

At the Wisconsin vs. Michigan State game with Collin's parents. So fun and exciting!