When I think about the fact that it’s been 12 years since 2000, I creep myself out. I can remember exactly what I was doing on New Years Eve 1999: spending time at my Grandparent’s house while everyone was panicking about the possibility of the world ending at midnight.
12 years is a long time.
I think the fact that I am getting older and will continue to get older is becoming more of a reality. Times moves on. Life moves on.
It’s silly how such a simple fact can be so haunting.
When I left Michigan, a part of me honestly felt I was leaving my life there on pause. That when I got back from my time here in New Orleans everything would be exactly where I left it. And in going home for Christmas, I saw that some of it, in fact, had been. My house looked the same. I took the same route to get from one place to the next.
But, it was different. Things were different. Or, maybe, I was different.
At orientation at Stony Point, NY earlier this past fall, one of the speakers talked about culture shock and the truth about leaving your home to do mission work. They said that no matter where we go, the life we knew is gone forever.
The life I knew in Michigan is gone forever. This is mainly because I am no longer the person I was there.
There are three Dynamics of a Mission Driven Journey
Homeland: place that shapes us; where we come from.
Wonderland: place we are going; a place of wonder. In this place we work to leave our homeland, and there are three different attitudinal results from our journey with the people in the wonderland.
- “Let’s teach them to be like us.” We take ALL of our own culture with us.
- “We want to be like them.” Pretending to people we are not.
- “I am listening. I am observing. I am being lead.” A constant dialogue between the two cultures.
Only by choosing the last attitude can you achieve the third dynamic of a mission driven journey:
Newfoundland: the Homeland now experienced in transformation; with new eyes and ears. This prevents us from ever going back to the Homeland the same. The home we know no longer exists.
It seems scary, but in truth, it is enlightening. Even though I have lost my life “on pause,” I gained so much more. I learned about my own identity, not just in culture, or my homeland, or even in others. I have learned about my identity in Christ. Being a person of God’s world means understanding and listening to each other, not putting myself first or trying to forget myself altogether, but finding myself in others. Isn’t that the way Jesus shows himself to us?
2012 will be the start to many adventures, good and bad. I may leave New Orleans. I may return home. But, I will not remained unchanged.