It’s little, and often strange, things that remind me of home. Korean writing on a sign, Chinese voices on the next aisle, the inside of an LG washing machine (I warned some were strange), shin ramen at Walmart, the smell of onion and garlic. When I least expect it, there it is. Lump in my throat, a bit of sadness, and a longing for the familiar. Homesickness.
It isn’t just what I see, hear, and smell, but also what I miss. Peppers laid out everywhere to dry, makes my eyes and nose burn just thinking about it. The market, filled to the brim with fresh produce, color, and noise. The sweet man who always throws in extra dried fruit for the girls when I buy cashews and almonds. Awesome hula-hooping and jump roping moments at the restaurant when no customers are around. The singing, laughing voices of our cooks at Gina’s Place. The busy, craziness brought by foreign teams visiting our city. The early morning voices calling to customers. Music and dancing in the park and other open spaces. Stopping to chat with students on the street or being stopped just to have a photo taken. Chinese and Korean food delivered to my door on busy days. Great friends that encourage and work alongside us. A house filled with giggling girls or jam sessions. Crowded buses complete with pushing and shoving. A full house on Sunday mornings. The taxi driver shocked to learn that I have 5 daughters, but more surprised to learn that I really like China.
We’ve been stateside now for several months and we are just now settling in. This is the first time in 15 years that we will be “staying” in one place during our time in the states. We’ve always floated, gypsy style, from one location to another. We would travel as a family, stay in missionary apartments, hotels, in the homes of strangers, friends, or family. The visiting, sharing, and traveling not only kept us busy, but also kept most of the homesick symptoms away. While, we’ll still be traveling this time, most of our time will be spent in Colorado taking care of some medical needs and hopefully encouraging our wonderful home church.
Staying still does have advantages. We are actually able to do school, consistently. We may actually complete everything this year, without having to scramble to catch-up. The girls are able to take music lessons. We hope to plug into a small homeschool group. We get to go to the library, regularly. But finding our place is a bit tougher. When we travel, we know what to do. We share what our Father is doing, try to cast vision, and hope to encourage those who support us. While we are stationary, we still want to be used.
The girls are missing those close relationships and kindred spirits they’ve been blessed with in China. Hanissa’s already confused because we’ve gone to the same church multiple times. We are all wanting to jump in and get involved, but unsure how to do it. We want to pour into the lives of others. We want to share the good things that God has done and is continuing to do in us. We want to make Him known wherever we are.
This week has been one of reflection. There are so many people, so many things that I miss when I’m away from China. And if I’m not careful, I could waste my time here by continually wishing I was somewhere else. Here is where I’ve been placed for now and here is where I’ll serve joyfully. So I’m praying, asking, and seeking opportunities to serve and looking forward to what God has in store for us right here.
I don’t know what God has prepared for us, but I am confident His plan is better than mine. Isaiah 55:8-11 puts it this way,
“ ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord.
‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.’
‘For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth,
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;’
‘So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.’”
So while I might be homesick now and then, I know that my Father has me, has my family, right where He wants us. And I’m confident He will accomplish His purpose.