Let me bust a myth for you: Not all "missionaries" like to travel. I know this is quite the revelation, so let me explain. I, for one, am not a huge fan of air travel. I like airports, I like the intrigue and mystique of new places and the comfortable familiarity of home. But the space between those, the one where I have to sit suspended above an ocean in an aluminum tube for hours on end—this is not my favorite thing. Yet I do it, and do it regularly, most recently flying "home" to Ohio where I'm trying to do a little thing called 'writing my dissertation' in the span of a few months.
Being back in the US is weird for a number of reasons. First, it's been awhile since I've been so much a part of day-to-day life here. Usually my trips are a whirlwind of activity, bouncing from here to there and trying to soak up as much time as possible with people I haven't seen in months. They are also filled with business, visiting and talking about work, recruiting volunteers, and always, always talking about Cambodia. The slower pace of life now is taking some time to get used to; it's a unique feeling after so much idealization of life in the States as compared to daily living in Southeast Asia.
Here's the thing: living abroad is exciting and worthwhile, but I think overseas workers are apt to fall into the "sacrifice mindset" where we think about how much we've given up to be where we are. Oh, I think it's natural and it's not everyone, all the time. But there are days when I definitely think it would be worth it to jump a plane and find an In 'n Out burger waiting for me on the other side of the ocean. I'm sure it sounds odd to hear someone say that the servant life has its downfalls. As an example, I went into the dry cleaner today, and when I gave my name and phone number, I didn't have to repeat it five times, no one commented on my marital status or how long I had been living in the US, no one mentioned my very clear use of the English language. It was, for lack of a better word, easy. Sometimes I miss easy.
Yet, this long period of being back in the US is also a stark reminder to me of just what I'm not missing by living abroad, a good reinforcement of the unique experiences I'm having by being exactly where God has placed me. Why sometimes it's better for life to be harder, to appreciate the things that God has put in my path, to learn the lessons and participate in what He is teaching me with all that I am. I think it's a lesson He has for all of us, when we find ourselves in places we wouldn't choose, circumstances that seem awkward or difficult. Because let's be honest, there are also some really amazing things that happen when we find ourselves in places we didn't expect to be. In Cambodia, that means I get to be part of an exciting ministry. In the US, I get to meet my six-month-old niece for the first time this week. In both places, God is blessing me, blessing us, as we live out our calling and live in the richness of His grace.