37,000 Feet

Since I just got back from my fourth trip to Belize, I have a lot of things to process.  The next few posts will likely be focused on my thoughts and experiences from this trip.  This post, in particular, was written on the trip itself.

I am writing this post from 37,000 feet above the earth. I’m cruising through the air on my way to Belize, Central America for the fourth time in two years, and my emotions are all over the map. I am excited to be going, I think, but there is something else, too. There is a degree of sadness, in a way, because of the clear sacrifices I’m making to be here right now and because of the emotional pull on my heart from those I am leaving behind.

Part of the confusion of these trips has always been this: I will feel these same bittersweet feelings one week from now, when I am flying in the other direction. Today I am eager to see the faces of my Belizean friends, but am heartsick over the goodbyes I’ve had to say in the past twenty-four hours.

A week from now, I’ll again be anxious to see the faces waiting for me on the other end of the road, but my face will be tear-stained from anguished goodbyes and the certainty that it will much longer than a week before I can return.

This life I have been called to…it is a weird one. When my church community first began this journey of international missions a few years ago, I felt the pull. As I signed up for that first experience in Belize, I had no way of knowing what would become of it. I had no way of knowing that it would not be just one or even two trips. I had no way of knowing that my daughter would know and mention the names of children in a country far away in everyday conversation, because she feels like she knows them. I didn’t know that my home would be decorated in spots of ancient Mayan art, or that every time I serve biscuits i would always think of the woman named Dolores who wove the basket I serve them in.

I had no way of knowing.

Honestly, I wonder if I would have signed on knowing that I would forever feel so torn between places. As though my temporary residence on this earth didn’t make me feel foreign enough…now I don’t always even feel at home in the place I call home. Now, often, I find myself not only longing for the home awaiting me in heaven, but also for the familiarity of a dusty village in Central America.

It’s difficult. If I’m honest, there is a lot about it that isn’t fun. I’ve been made aware of things that hurt. I’ve seen things that cannot be unseen. I’ve heard stories that, while I may push them out of my mind and move on, they remain true, real life for a real person into whose eyes I have looked.

It’s hard. And as I hurl through the air toward unknown experiences this week, I am nervous.

I have no way of knowing what awaits me, but there is infinite comfort that God does know, and that He has been preparing me for whatever it is. We’ll face it – the joyous reunions to the laughing fellowship to the tearful goodbyes – together.

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