“This is the beauty and the tragedy of being a missionary in a foreign land. We are connected to many places deeply but belong to nowhere fully,” shares Ivy. “I will miss home wherever I go and I will create a new home wherever I move. I am adopting cultures and creating a third culture of my own.”
"Do you miss home?" I think that’s the number one question asked to missionaries around Christmas time. It takes too much time to explain, so most of the time, I just respond that I miss it a bit (But if I were to answer I would say something like: “Well, I do, but the floating home, not the one in Taiwan. Christmas is not the time for family in that part of the world. Ask me again around Chinese New Year.”).
“Do you miss home?” is a question asked with the assumption that there is only one home. However, most of the time, this is not the case for long-term missionaries. We have quite a mixed identity.
For me missing home means...
...missing eating a lot on a roundtable with family dressed up in red
...missing worshipping with 60 different nationalities in a prayer meeting
...missing looking at the sea while sailing
...missing watching a new Pixar movie with my Dad
...missing acapella-style African worship with harmonies and dance moves that I can not do
...missing video games with my brother
...missing interchanging between English and Chinese in one sentence with an overseas Chinese fellowship
...missing Japanese animation
...missing window shopping in air-conditioned stores with my Mom
...missing the pride of successfully making a meal that I didn’t have the right ingredients for
...missing random German words
...missing opportunities to share about Jesus
...missing swimming at the Lake
The list goes on and it will continue to change. As you can see, the list of what makes me miss home is from my different homes. This is the beauty and the tragedy of being a missionary in a foreign land. We are connected to many places deeply but belong to nowhere fully. I will miss home wherever I go and I will create a new home wherever I move. I am adopting cultures and creating a third culture of my own.
One of my best friends on the ship is a missionary kid. As a third culture kid, she has mixed cultural worldviews and considers two countries as her home. She told me that it’s not easy to be in between, and it took a long time for her to adjust when she stayed in different homes. However, she realises she has had a great privilege; she truly understands that her ultimate home is not on this earth.
“People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.” — Hebrews 11:14-16 (The Message)
Missing home is normal, but remember that our ultimate, true home is above. That is the one we should really miss, the home where the Kingdom culture will fully carry out. Do I miss home on this holiday? Yes, I do––and not just during the holiday. I will miss my true home until the day when my family in Christ will be all united to attend the big banquet with our Master.
Afternote: The same week when I was writing this article, I got stuck in a city in the middle of the night due to the public bus breaking down. The OMer in the city immediately came to rescue and gave me a bed with the mosquito net hanging perfectly. I even woke up with hot water for bath and well-prepared breakfast. They quickly made me feel home. Home is where family is and I am glad that as a missionary (and Christian), I have a very large family in Christ.
Ivy, previously a city girl rushing into the Taipei metro everyday, now enjoys walking around beautiful villages at Lake Tanganyika, Zambia. She likes to listen to people's stories and write newsletters (really a rare species). Her dream is to become the shortest giant in the world.