I remember that Sunday well. The only time I can remember that I got up and walked out of church. It was my second Sunday back in the States going to my home church. I had been looking forward to being back for the last two and a half years. I stood and watched everyone around me singing. I couldn’t. Tears filled my eyes as I watched them. I knew I was completely alone. They had no idea the things I had seen and experienced in the last few years. The overwhelming poverty and suffering that I was surrounded with on a daily basis. Things that I could never tell anyone about. I couldn’t do it. I walked out, got into my car and drove. Just drove, and cried. I was so desperately homesick. What I would have given to be home, to hang out with my friends, to not be alone, especially on that day, my birthday. When I finally drove up to my parents’ house, I stopped only long enough to change into running clothes. As I ran, I asked God why. Why did this have to be my life? Why would my life continue to be a cycle of hellos and good byes for as long as I could see? As I started in on the third mile, God gently spoke to my heart. He explained that my homesickness and tears where a good thing. They were a testimony to the work He had done in my heart over the last two and a half years. Somehow, He had changed my heart completely. He had given me a deep love for the country and people he had called me to, something I would have told you was impossible during my first year overseas as I struggled to adjust. He told me that what I was feeling was ok and actually a blessing, something I could prasie Him for. This conversation with God gave me perspecitve during the rest of my time in the States. No, it didn’t help with the homesick thing, but it gave me peace knowing that I was right where God wanted me, no matter how hard it might be. While it was fun to see family and friends, it took three months for me to get to the point where I didn’t cry when thinking of home.
Six months later, as I boarded the plane to finally go home, my heart was fearful that Madagascar, my friends, and my life wouldn’t be the same as how I had left it, that maybe what my heart had been longing for would be no more. I arrived late at night, and the next morning my phone rang. It was my best friends, they passed the phone from one to another and I am pretty sure that we did nothing on that phone call except laugh with joy that we could talk on the phone again and exclaim how amazing it was to hear each others’ voices. I was finally home.
Every single day I absolutely enjoy everything about life Madagascar. Public transportation. The smell of rice cooking over charcoal fires and bricks being made in the fields. Eating rice. Speaking Malagasy. Every thing is such a joy. Last week during CYIA, my teaching team and I would make our escape each evening and walk to a nearby town and drink coffee and eat fried bread. Walking slowly (and I do mean slooooowly) down the road, talking about everything under the sun and yet nothing at all, and crowding onto a bench at a roadside store front to eat our snack, I couldn’t have been happier. We meandered back to our kids, singing and looking at the stars. My heart overflowed with thanksgiving for the amazing things God had done in my heart over the last three years. I knew Him in a whole new way and He had changed my heart in ways I could have never imagined. Not only that, but He had blessed me above and beyond any thing that I had ever hoped for with my amazing friends, teens, kids and ministry here in Madagascar. I even praised Him for my time in the States and all He had taught me through that storm. It was only in being away that I could truly appreciate on a whole new level what He was doing in me and what amazing gifts He had blessed me with. What a good, loving, and amazing God we serve!