We were blessed with a trip back to the US for about a month as as a family, first time in about three years. These trips are always different...sometimes vacation, sometimes work, sometimes a mix of the two. They are hard to define, and harder to put together. When the kids were younger, they were also very hard on them. This was probably the first one we have done as a family that we would say was an all around relaxing/enjoyable time. All of them before have been good...but they can be stressful, challenging, and tiring. We tried to learn from past mistakes, life lessons, etc. to make this one as good as possible, and it worked pretty well.
More than our planning though, was just how overwhelmingly well everyone we visited took care of us, loved on us, and just made everything so easy, fun, painless and delightful.
I mention that because in talking to other missionaries I find that is more often than not...not the case.
Included in that trip we were able via some very inexpensive tickets, take another overseas trip. This time it just jumped out to me to try to visit some of our friends from Tegucigalpa that live in Barcelona.
It was so good to get to see them again. These are friends from back in our first mission trip days, doing eye brigades together in the rented house that was being used for the Church back then. We got to see all the big tourist sites with much help from them, and they even put us up for our few days there.
While we were there, among many good/interesting conversations...we were talking about living in a foreign country, with a different language (although Spanish is of course spoken...Catalan is what you see on all signs and what everyone born there also speaks with much pride) and maintaining their identity as Hondurans while living in a different country with different standards and norms.
I was thinking about their unique challenges living cross culturally, and then my own. I am constantly reminded (in my own mind) all the times that I feel like I screw that up, or do not make the jump, transition or whatever, successfully...going both ways.
I remember doing counseling a few years ago and the counselor very strongly rejecting my definition of myself as being weird. I never could understand why he thought I was not weird, nor what truth he was seemingly trying to impart to me...it was like hearing someone implore to you in a foreign language, no matter how hard I thought I was listening, I couldn't get it.
Maybe he was getting at that no matter how weird we might feel or seem to others, that the "normal" of who we are, and who we are in God, is what matters? Maybe not to focus on where we feel screw things up, don't understand, or feel like we are sticking out because of who we are...but to concentrate on being God's emissary/missionary/sent worker...no matter in which culture, language, or country we find ourselves. Let Him work the rest out.