Life after mission (part 4/4)
How did you feel after your coming home?
Coming home was tough. Fearful that I would forget all the joy and delight of living in Martin, once we came home, from the moment of our arrival there in October, 2009, I tried to press every conversation and kindness experienced in Martin on the pages of my mind so that I could not forget. And because I did that, Martin became my home quickly and deeply. When it was time to come home (back to America), in so many ways we were leaving our home, too. In other words, we were leaving home to go home.
How do you feel now, after being home for 16 months?
Have you ever put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, only to discover that one piece is missing? Sometime later that piece shows up—maybe in someone’s jeans pocket, so that it gets a little bent or damp and its shape is “tweaked” just a tad. Now, when you try to put that piece back into the puzzle, it just won’t quite fit in the space it was originally designed to fill.
That is what our adjustment has been like since we’ve returned to our home here in Vancouver. Living in another culture has naturally re-shaped, stretched, and ”tweaked “ my husband and me, so that it can be a bit of a stretch to find where and how to can fit back into our surroundings. Whether as a parent, grandparent, or friend, in my present “tweaked” condition” the compulsion to frame every conversation about this life-changing Slovakia experience can be tedious for both the listener and me!
How has your relationship with God changed now that you have returned home from your ministry in Slovakia?
While the two years in Slovakia brought excitement, challenge, and memories uncountable, God plopped the reminder into my mind recently that “That was then; this is now.” Paul says it this way: “. . .I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection . . ” so, “. . . Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus . . . “ (Philippians 3:10a and 13).
Hmm . . . Does this mean that I am to forget the good work God called my husband and me to do in our beloved Slovakia? Nope! We will remember His gracious goodness for the rest of our lives. But, it is time to look ahead in anticipation of what God is preparing for the next step. It’s easier to trust Him for that next step now, knowing that, no matter where He leads, He will show Himself faithful.
What was it like to live out your faith again once you returned to the USA?
People at church and in the community often ask, “Well, are you going back to Slovakia soon?” I’m beginning to understand and have learned to explain that, at this moment, we know we are where we are supposed to “be”. When we are to “be” somewhere else, we are counting on God to clue us in!
Living out faith here doesn’t look much different here from our faith walk while in Slovakia. God just seems to bring the people into our lives here with whom we can share His good news just as He did far across the ocean. I have to say, also, that He also brings people into our lives as well who can gently and wisely speak God’s best into our own hearts and lives as well.
In your opinion, what is the most important in a person’s relationship with God?
In this journey of experiencing a relationship with God, I’ve discovered countless “false narratives” about who God is, inaccuracies that have been spoken into my life by others, well intentioned though these speakers may have been. (False narratives like, “God helps those who help themselves”, or “If this isn’t God’s will for you, you are in deep weeds”). Discovering the love of the Father through His Word and through His word spoken into my life (through the wisdom of others, for example) create quite the journey!!! I do believe that the more we know who God is and, more importantly, the more we experience Him by walking in His steps, the more we will love and trust Him.
And what is the most important for a community of believers?
Only as we ask God to reveal Himself to us as He truly is will we experience the dynamic power of loving grace that God has for us and that we must live out as a community of believers. We love Him because He first loved us.