Sunday, August 23, 2015

Gringa In Mexico: Living Abroad

There is so much that I miss. 

I am over 2,000 miles from where I was born and raised and the place I also left behind for the sake of the Gospel. From Michigan to Tijuana, Mexico.
Tijuana, Mexico
I miss my mother terribly everyday. I have a special phone plan just so I can hear her voice daily.  She is my lifeline, my biggest cheerleader and true friend.

I miss the church I found Jesus in.  The one I have developed profound relationships and these dear people who have walked with me for more than 18 years.

I miss my childhood friends.  People I walked home from junior high with and those I have a million treasured memories which have continued year to year.

I miss the colors of fall leaves, hot donuts from the cider mill, watching snow fall like stars (yes, I miss snow!), almond chicken from my favorite Chinese place and watching TV in my first language, not to mention all the programs not available abroad.

I also miss green.  The bright, fresh green of Michigan that refreshes me in an unexplainable way.  In times I visit you can typically find me walking a green path or lying in the grass for hours. (True.)

And did I mention how much I miss my mother?

I remember the last day I spent in my Michigan apartment.  I lived there for 6 years and had it decorated comfortably and I was also comfortable.

I had just given away my dog that I had for 15 years to a friend who could care for him.  The week prior I sold everything I owned in a garage sale and all I had in front of me that day was a box of kleenex that I emptied and two overweight suitcases.

I laid on the floor and wept. I mean I cried hysterically. I don't think anything has hurt more than that process of surrendering and grief.  Yet, it is the mystery of God when Jesus says;

"Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:39

*The divine paradox.*

It is in these steps of faith and bravery that we find the honest melody to "It is well with my soul." That peace in obedience and the peace of laying it all down for Christ.

What may be even more a mystery to me is that giving up the life I knew, brought me to the life I was destined for. And the strange part was, that if anyone would have told me that I could not go to the mission field, I would have cried even harder than I did for leaving it behind. There was this feeling of "I have to go and if I don't... I just might die."

I would feel the same today if someone told me I now have to leave the land of Mexico.

I have lived here now for 5 years.  Saying that (or writing it) surprises me as it seems like yesterday I was packing my suitcases.  But 5 years is a long while.  Much has been accomplished in ministry and victories that God only deserves the credit for.  But much has also happened within me.

I have transformed.

The experience of living in a culture and land other than our own, changes you to the core in the most profound way possible. The growth that unfolds can only be done outside of your comfort zone.

Depending on God's strength to make yourself break through your comfort brings death to your fleshly fears and courage to your spirit. You are pushed and broken to see from God's perspective more than a culture, but His Kingdom. 

I need to remember this even more when I struggle with cultural differences or see things that are unique to Mexico.  Even 5 years later not everything is "normal" to me.  Oh, I still struggle and feel like the burning refining fire on my character never ceases. Stressors don't decrease much even now for me.
A home on the side of the freeway.
However, God has placed me in Mexico. The land with warmth from the sun and from its people. My lot and portion are chosen by Him. (Psalm 16:5,6)

Indeed, I am home.

I have peace to stay for a long while more where I trust I will encounter the same courage I did before.

In the last 5 years, I have ministered to many children in horrible situations, survivors of sexual violence and those all around me in dire and desperate situations. But there has also been relationships built with my neighbors, the girl at the coffee shop, the man at the taco stand, the security guard in my neighborhood, the single mother of three who occasionally cleans my house (for almost nothing!) and all the people passing who want to pet my dogs.

I think I will always miss the familiarity of my green Michigan and I will always miss my mother more than words can say.  But I would also miss the home that has been built in the dry Mexican desert. The life that was waiting to be given after the apartment was emptied, after the kleenex was gone, and after I said "yes, I will go."

And it is still (more than) well with my soul. 

1 comment:

  1. Praise God! This post is by far my favorite. It is incredibly refreshing to hear the tale of a God love story! God loves you and laid your purpose in front of you and you obeyed! There is no greater love or sacrifice. So beautiful! You are blessed!