You know the saying "You can't go home again"? What I've learned is that's 100% true. It's the weirdest feeling to spend 11 months of the year pining for your home country...friends, family, food, everything that's familiar...and then arriving to find that nothing feels quite right. It actually feels like a pretty unfair situation that in the country you serve you often feel on the edge of everything because of language or cultural differences, but then you go home, and you feel the exact same way. Why? Why is all this weirdness happening? I mean, I lived 30 years in the U.S. before I came to Nicaragua, so why do I feel so strange when I go home? Why do I feel like it's my home country giving me culture shock?
Well, it's because life doesn't exist in a vacuum. When I go home, friends have moved on, congregations have changed, family dynamic is different, etc. But in my heart I pressed pause the last time I left the U.S., so it feels strange to me. Also, living full-time in a 3rd world country makes the adjustment to a 1st world country quite the kick in the gut. Everything's so big and developed and easy, and it makes everyday decisions feel hard. Constantly debating prices vs. value and feeling really overwhelmed at the amount of choices. I have to carry lists with me of needs when I go into stores because if I don't know exactly what I'm looking for, I get overwhelmed and just walk straight back out. My Mom has had to drive me back to a store to ensure I actually buy what I really need. Whether I like it or not, this land of lakes and volcanoes has gotten under my skin. We have a love/hate relationship, but at the same time, don't YOU talk smack about it, because I'll defend it in a minute.
But you know what? In a way, all this weirdness is good. Because do you know what's worse? Having a roundtrip ticket back to Nicaragua but going home and feeling like "THIS is amazing! THIS I could do again. I REALLY REALLY miss all of THIS". Because then you're in trouble. Then you've let yourself get comfortable maybe even dreaming of how life would be back in the land of plenty and basically just ensuring a REALLY hard transition back to your assignment and A LOT of tears at the airport. So my personal wish every time is to feel just a little weirdness...just enough to ensure I get on that plane back each time.
Thursday, September 3, 2015
I know that most of you who read this blog are wanna-be need greaters or may already have some plans in the works. I think it's important to address the question, though, of WHAT KIND OF NEED do you want to fill? Let me explain a few options so you know what I'm talking about.
Are you an appointed brother? Then there's an excellent chance that the need you'll be asked to fill will be elder in a congregation. Here in Nicaragua the maximum elders you'll ever find in a congregation are four. Four elders for 100 people! We have a DESPERATE need for elders. So it may be that although you were thinking you'd be sent in the middle of the country with no running water or someplace like pictured below, you're sent to the middle of the capital!
There are other congregations here who focus on foreign languages within Nicaragua like Miskito, Chinese, or English. They have vast territories they need to census on a regular basis, so you may find that your service with them is made up mainly of search work rather than conducting a million Bible studies.
Then you have congregations where the need truly is the territory. It may be covered somewhat often but quantity has trumped quality. Or it just needs to be worked period. Here would be your opportunity for those million Bible studies.
How would you know what's best for you? Well, if you're only able to come for a month or so, pick a congregation where you can do lots of census. Or come during a campaign to help a congregation with a vast territory. If you're coming for a longer period of time, you can actually cultivate those studies in a need territory, so go for it! Are you married? Although you, as an appointed brother would have plenty to do in a busy, metro congregation, what about your spouse? Would she feel ok working a territory that's possibly covered every two weeks?
These are all important things to be considered before choosing a congregation. And I can't stress enough that these are items you NEED to include in your letter to the branch when you ask about need areas. Make sure you are specific in the TYPE of need you want to fulfill. And make it a matter of prayer. Tell Jehovah the exact type of need that interests you most and let him direct the rest.
Side note: don't forget about your own needs...physically, emotionally, spiritually. If you're the only appointed brother in the group and have to direct every single meeting, will that be a detriment to your spirituality? If you're put in a vast territory alone in the middle of nowhere, will that effect your physical health? If you're the only foreigner in your district, will you feel too lonely? What about your emotional health? Know thyself...then act accordingly.