It has been such a joy having our GRANDdaughter Jennifer with us this month. She has been two years on the South Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea with her missionary parents. Our Lord provided for her to come this summer, before her junior year in high school to begin her preparation for college. We have been visiting schools and some of the churches who support her family.
It has been great to see her re-introduced to her “passport country”, a term used to describe missionary kids who sometimes struggle to identify their ‘home’ country.
“WOW, I had forgotten what it is like to have stores that sell NEW clothes!”
“Ice Cream! REAL Ice Cream!”
“It’s OK to drink from this water fountain?”
She celebrated her 17th birthday by getting her Florida driver’s license -on the ‘right side’ of the road.
But it has also been hard to see the struggles of watching this young adult face the reality that “you can never go home”. She left her Grandmother in the USA and came back to the realization that she really has gone to heaven. She spent a month with her Papa as a grieving widower last summer and come back to find him a very happily married man. She left with Florida as her home and came back to a new house in a strange city.
But perhaps the most difficult of all is to be so excited to see old classmates who hardly know you now. To find old friends who have moved on in busy new circles and hardly have time to be with you. To find folks who have been praying “God bless the missionaries” but can’t remember just what mission field you are on.
The kind of things that career missionaries (“mature” adults) struggle with so much that it has been identified as “reverse culture shock”.
Hebrews 13:14 reminds us of the natural longing in the human heart for a permanent home, an unchanging habitation, a stable and secure abiding place, a refuge in an insecure and ever-changing world. But, “here have we no continuing city,,,” This world is NOT my home, we used to sing that old Gospel truth in hymns.
“but we seek one to come!”
As I’ve watched Jennifer adjusting to the USA and grappling with her bit of reverse culture shock, I’ve been asking our Lord to remember that we can never go BACK home. Whatever it was, it is not that now and never will be. But we can go HOME. Let us press on in steadfast endurance and faithful labor to our eternal, heavenly home which our Lord has gone on to prepare for us. “an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)