Now that we have some long term vision, it’s time to start moving in that direction. After a long drive back from Pennsylvania, it has been good to celebrate Christmas with family. January will be spent communicating and preparing, and at the end of the month, we’ll get on a plane.
First, we’ll be heading to Rwanda. We’ll be there for 6 weeks. We’re really looking forward to seeing our people there again – it has been far too long. We have a few goals to accomplish while there, but the overarching one is to close out our time there well. When we were there last year, we were pretty sure that we were finished living and working there full time, but didn’t want to make any rash decisions. We did our best to put things into a holding pattern. As we have continued to talk over the year, we have decided that, while we may return, it is time to move on from that season.
“On our way” back to Canada, we’re going to make a stop in the Philippines. In YWAMese, we would call it a “pastoral visit.” So I have been trying to figure out how to define that in a way that makes it make sense for us to go all the way to the Philippines for 2 weeks, for a visit. We have some wonderful friends who have been working there for, I think, 7 or 8 years. It is difficult to describe the slow, cumulative toll that is exacted by cross-cultural living, by repeatedly witnessing trauma, and by the constant weight of responsibility. It sneaks up on us. It is hard to pinpoint because it manifests as depression, an inability to stop and take a rest, irritability, severe criticism of a culture (either home culture or host culture), physical illness, or a hundred other things that don’t really seem related. It is also difficult to describe because it is often perceived as complaint – when most of us joyfully undertake these difficulties… it is just that they are difficult.
The good news is that one of the best aids in the difficulty is not being alone. Having people enter in, listen, encourage, and occasionally bring a broader perspective has been our biggest support over our years in Rwanda. As we have been discussing with our beloved friend, we realized we have the time to go – so at the end of March, we’ll make a side trip on our way back to Canada.