Culturally Changed: Part 2 (Posted 8-5-2011)

I (Julie) never wanted to be a missionary.  Many of you know this.  I had my list of reasons, and one of them was that I thought missionaries were weird!  To be fair, I never really knew any personally, but I saw them at church and missions conferences, and I definitely thought they were weird.

A few days ago I shared about my phone conversation with the REI salesperson.  In the days following that conversation as I was grieving some of the everyday changes of our lives, I had two related conversations.

One was with an adult MK (missionary kid), who is now living in her third culture.  She shared with me that she does not belong to any of her cultures—not her passport country, not the country where she grew up, and she said, “I’m definitely not Spanish.”  I asked her some questions about this, and we discussed the inevitable feelings of being different that arise from her experiences.  At the same time, we also discussed some of the blessings God has provided to help her specifically adjust to living in Spain.

The next day we had breakfast with some other missionaries that live in our neighborhood.  They commented to us, “We’ll never be Spanish and yet we’re not really American anymore either.”  They talked about how much they love living here in Spain and how they intentionally work to connect with the culture when they return to the US.

I see now that I, too, am “weird.”  Maybe changed is the better word.  Little things that are completely normal for life in the US are not a part of my life here, and when I hear some of them, I am struck by how strange and different they sound.  Chad and I have often wondered throughout this past year how we are changing.  It’s hard to identify as it is happening.  Then, something little like a phone call or a conversation comes up, and you see a glimpse of the change that is in process.

As I have struggled over the years with the concept of how “different” we will be, Chad has repeatedly brought me back to Hebrews 13:12-14, which says, “12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. “ We’ve chosen to live the life God has called us to for the purpose of joining Christ “outside the camp” for His glory and eternal purposes, and part of that will involve feeling a little strange and misunderstood and knowing that some others will definitely think us weird, too.  Some days I will be okay with that and other days I will cry.  And, that’s okay.

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