37,000 Feet

Since I just got back from my fourth trip to Belize, I have a lot of things to process.  The next few posts will likely be focused on my thoughts and experiences from this trip.  This post, in particular, was written on the trip itself.

I am writing this post from 37,000 feet above the earth. I’m cruising through the air on my way to Belize, Central America for the fourth time in two years, and my emotions are all over the map. I am excited to be going, I think, but there is something else, too. There is a degree of sadness, in a way, because of the clear sacrifices I’m making to be here right now and because of the emotional pull on my heart from those I am leaving behind.

Part of the confusion of these trips has always been this: I will feel these same bittersweet feelings one week from now, when I am flying in the other direction. Today I am eager to see the faces of my Belizean friends, but am heartsick over the goodbyes I’ve had to say in the past twenty-four hours.

A week from now, I’ll again be anxious to see the faces waiting for me on the other end of the road, but my face will be tear-stained from anguished goodbyes and the certainty that it will much longer than a week before I can return.

This life I have been called to…it is a weird one. When my church community first began this journey of international missions a few years ago, I felt the pull. As I signed up for that first experience in Belize, I had no way of knowing what would become of it. I had no way of knowing that it would not be just one or even two trips. I had no way of knowing that my daughter would know and mention the names of children in a country far away in everyday conversation, because she feels like she knows them. I didn’t know that my home would be decorated in spots of ancient Mayan art, or that every time I serve biscuits i would always think of the woman named Dolores who wove the basket I serve them in.

I had no way of knowing.

Honestly, I wonder if I would have signed on knowing that I would forever feel so torn between places. As though my temporary residence on this earth didn’t make me feel foreign enough…now I don’t always even feel at home in the place I call home. Now, often, I find myself not only longing for the home awaiting me in heaven, but also for the familiarity of a dusty village in Central America.

It’s difficult. If I’m honest, there is a lot about it that isn’t fun. I’ve been made aware of things that hurt. I’ve seen things that cannot be unseen. I’ve heard stories that, while I may push them out of my mind and move on, they remain true, real life for a real person into whose eyes I have looked.

It’s hard. And as I hurl through the air toward unknown experiences this week, I am nervous.

I have no way of knowing what awaits me, but there is infinite comfort that God does know, and that He has been preparing me for whatever it is. We’ll face it – the joyous reunions to the laughing fellowship to the tearful goodbyes – together.

Categories: Reflections

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4 replies »

  1. Got a few tears in my eyes because I get the same feeling of being torn between several beloved places as you express in this post! For me, it’s mostly Omaha, where God has brought me and where I work and have family & dear friends… Jamaica, where I serve & love & have dear friends.. and Colorado, where my family and camp and other dear friends are. I’m usually glad AND sad, whichever direction I’m heading!

    If it were up to me, people like you & I would have our own private jets. 🙂

    Ok I’m done stalking your blog, for now.. haha! 🙂 ~Frances

    • Frances, I wish the conversation had gone in this direction last weekend! We probably would have missed a session or two, though, chatting away. 🙂 I would love to know more about your ministry in Jamaica – that sounds phenomenal!

      • Very true! Maybe we’ll get the chance to do that someday, that would be awesome. I know for a fact I’ve talked the ears off more than one long-suffering friend simply answering the question, “how was your trip?” So hard to summarize! 🙂 If you have 3 minutes sometime here is a video of my trip in 2012 that is really neat and kinda gives an idea of what I do there.

  2. Oh, my sweet girl. I so relate to what you have expressed. There’s always so much uncertainty intermingled in the excitement of these trips. Can you believe that you just completed your 4th and I’m preparing for my own 4th. We had no idea what God had planned for us when we so hesitantly but enthusiastically signed up for that first trip. Little did we know, as well, that God would take us in different directions with our missions. We are both doing what we feel called to do in areas and with people that we feel are our own. Neither is any more profound or necessary than the other. I am so proud of what you do in your God’s work. You are truly not only the Hands and Feet of God, but you are His Mouth as well.
    Though I often wish that my own mission took me with you on your trips, I know in my heart that I would feel inadequate if I was with you. That’s not my purpose or my place. We both know that, I think. We’re much alike, you and I. But different. Together we make a whole and I know that I depend strongly and deeply on who you are. God chooses to remove me from my dependence on you and make me stand on my own feet. I know that now. It’s taken me a while to hear and understand that.
    I want to spend some time with you soon and hear about all that you experienced and felt.
    I love you and again, I’m so proud of you.

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