The last 6 months our family has experienced a constant wave of emotions. Cleaning out 16 years of life in Mexico, we packed anything that would fit into our van, sold items that could not make the trip, and threw out tons of miscellaneous junk that somehow crept into the nooks and crannies of our Mexican “home”. Midway into our one year sabbatical, we are continuing to clean out emotional clutter that had also crept in during the long season of missionary service. As we debrief and seek God, we are seeing clearly that the “Next Season” of life will look very different than the last one. Our kids growing and nearing college and high school, my parents now retired and my father’s health waning, as an only child, it seems right that I would finally live close to “home”.
This week I returned to Mexico, my second trip since leaving in April. I wondered how it would be, physically and emotionally. Physically within less than 24 hours, my sinuses were already stuffy (the mesquite trees that cover the mountains continue to reek havoc with my allergies even after years of immunizations). Emotionally I knew that I needed to be prepared for whatever feelings would arise from going “home”. As I walked the muddy and dust laden streets of Ixtlahuacan, I was however surprised by my feelings. Comfortably familiar was all I felt...no sadness, no longing, no missing....just comfortable familiarity.
For the last 6 months NOTHING has been familiar. The clean paved streets, air conditioning, pressurized water, and the quiet of America are all unfamiliar to me. In Mexico my bedroom was humid from the rain falling outside. And the constant noise reminded me that I am not alone. From my room, I could hear the hum of motorcycles as they splashed through the puddles on the dirt road. Listening beyond the hum, I could hear chickens, a few roosters and some donkeys braying. Those sounds are all familiar to me.
While in Mexico, I returned to our house, the only “home” most of our girls even remember. I suspected that going there would inspire some deeper emotions, but to my surprise, it did not. Again, it was comfortably familiar. But my real “home”, my family, they are thousands of miles away in a different house we now call “home”. So I continue to process what was, what is and what is to come and I think of all the missionaries who have walked this similar road before us and the many waves of emotions that we face during this process.