So yes, I am back in North America again! I`ve actually been home for a couple of weeks now, but it was kinda sorta a secret when I came home because it was my dad`s 50th birthday party, and since we couldn`t hide the party from him, we had to surprise him with something! So that was the plan, executed beautifully, minus the part where me and Tori drove by him in the car the morning of the party...why you may ask....Timmy`s.
The past couple of weeks have been so restful for me, which is exactly what I was needing! I`ve been able to sleep in (past 7am...which is amazing!), enjoy the sunshine long into the evening (usually the sun sets around 6 or 6:30pm in Haiti, all year long), catch up with friends and family (haven`t had enough time with all of you yet!), enjoy running on flat, paved ground (hallelujah!), and also had some time to reflect on my year in Haiti a little bit.
The transition back home for this summer has been a little difficult for me. It`s to be expected I guess with reverse culture shock and all of that, but it`s been really hard for me actually to have nothing really to do. In Haiti I was constantly on the go, up at 6am, in meetings by 6:45am, out all day, at meals with the teams, sometimes on the go until 9 or 10 at night...and now here I`m taking a break. I feel a bit lost honestly. I know I need the break and time to take a breather and think through and pray about vision for my life in this next chapter...but I`m just not busy like I was...so it`s been a bit of a change. Lovely, but so weird!
Here`s one thing I`ve been thinking about for the past week or so...some food for thought:) It all started in a conversation at Brad & Melissa`s house (my brother and sister-in-law, for those of you that don`t know them...). I forget how we got onto it, but we talked about how asleep we are (spiritually speaking). Matthew 25 talks about the 10 virgins, 5 with oil in their lamps and 5 without. Now the thing that struck me this time when we were talking about it was how they were all asleep before the call went out that the bridegroom was coming...the wise and the unwise...both. Weird. But it`s not about whether or not they were asleep, what mattered was what they did before they fell asleep...the wise got oil (oil - representing intimacy with Jesus). This is what counts here and now. I don`t want to get lulled to sleep in this present day culture with all of it`s stuff, at least not without first knowing fully in my heart that I am completely in love with Jesus.
This past week I was listening to some good ol Jon Thurlow (Sometimes I can`t believe how good the stuff is that comes out of this guy!), and it was a song I had never heard before, and the words hit me...
The love that You have for Jesus, put it inside of me.
Burn it on my heart like a seal, like a seal.
That in the famines of Your presence, or in the floods of persecution,
or in the comfort of the culture, it`s still real, it`s still real.
I just want a heart that is falling love.
It`s so simple, but I constantly seem to need to go back to this simple truth, and remind myself, that`s it all about Jesus. It`s all about loving Him and being loved by Him...not what I do, not where I am, not how good I am...it`s about love. Pure and simple.
Being home this time around what I`ve noticed a lot is how much culture affects us all. Music, food, social interactions, politics, time management, fashion, media, entertainment...we`ve got it all here! It`s different in every country, but it shapes us, affects us and makes us respond in certain ways, it plays a part in making us who we are. After spending more than a year in Haiti though, there`s parts of my own culture that I`m finding hard to swallow now.
I remember my uncle Clarke sharing this with me once after he had served in Croatia for 3 yrs with his family...how when you come back and go through the whole re-entry thing that you notice more or different things about the culture you integrated into for a time and your own culture. There`s a phase (if I remember correctly) where you are uncomfortable with the new culture (Haiti for me), then you get more comfortable with it, and may even start to like it. Coming home and doing the re-entry thing some people can go through a stage where they may really dislike, even hate, their own culture (North America for me). With time however, people can start to take bits and pieces from each culture, parts they like, parts that fit, parts that are a challenge, parts that are healthy, and make it their own.
Now I wouldn`t go so far as to say that I hate the North American culture, but I`m definitely noticing it more, and noticing it`s effects on me. I`m noticing my tendencies to want things that are easier (why not just throw my clothes in the dryer...it`s faster, why not stop at Timmy`s and pay for a coffee instead of making my own), in style (short shorts just did not happen in Haiti like they seem to here, at least they weren`t supposed to, and I have to admit, I have a weakness for pretty shoes...I never thought the day would come...), and up-to-date with everything in music and media (Confession here - I will never be up-to-date... ever). All these things aren`t bad things...I`ve just had my eyes opened to how these things seem to just rock me to sleep (again, in the spiritual sense). It`s so easy to just fall into life here, to let myself be comfortable...I think that`s why the song I quoted earlier hit me like it did. We often wonder if we would be able to stand in times of persecution, if someone was going to kill me, would I hold true to Jesus. But just as threatening as that is, right beside it stands the comforts of our culture. I remember hearing lots of stories of how people in other countries that we as north americans think of as struggling or being persecuted, they often pray for us, because we`re so comfortable and just think that we don`t need God! We can get through life on our own with our college education, our secure jobs, our retirement savings plans...but are we just getting put to sleep before we get oil (Matt. 25 again).
So ya, those have been some of my thoughts this past week. I`m sure I`ll keep chewing on them some more, but out of it all the one thing that matters is that I have a heart that is in love with Jesus. That this love `that many waters cannot quench` (Song of Songs 8:7) would be in me, and would keep me through the famines of His presence, the floods of persecution, and the comforts of my culture.
I would also like to ask for your continued prayers in this upcoming season. I`m home for the summer, but what lies next is pretty unclear at this point. I have some decisions to make about what is next, whether that is returning to Haiti for another year`s term, or continuing here in Canada with nursing, or if it`s something competely different and unrelated! I`m praying and asking for wisdom and vision for the next part of my journey...
I so love and appreciate each one of you for your support, encouragement and love over these past months of my life! The journey has been full of adventure and I have learned and grown more than I can know I`m sure! Only God knows what lies next, and I just want to be growing more in love with Him, however that looks and turns out. Thanks again everybody!!!