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.