I am home. It really means a lot to say that, because I just returned from a 2 week stay in the States. (If you weren’t aware of this, it’s because we kept it top secret--I surprised my sister for her college graduation.) Before we ever left for Peru, Greg would tell me how important it was to stay on the field at least two years before returning. Many times, if missionaries return to their homeland too soon, they don’t want to return to the mission field. I am 3 months shy of that 2 year marker, and it was a difficult decision to make. But we decided that the reason for the trip was important enough for me to go. For the record, I traveled with the two girls and Greg stayed here in Peru.
I absolutely loved seeing my homeland. I was so curious before leaving what it would feel like to be in the States. Driving from the Atlanta airport to my hometown of Tullahoma, TN, I looked over at my mom and said, “This is all just so familiar.” It really felt like it was yesterday that I had left. Of course, there were many things that I had missed and many things that I didn’t realize I missed so much, but all in all, it still felt like home. I was in a place with family that supports me, friends I can call on, and a church family that I grew up with. My favorite comfort foods were served everyday, the language was English, my bed was softer than I remember, and the shower had constant heat and pressure. One of my best friends asked how I felt about being home. “Is it bad that if I came up with a feeling for heaven this would be it?” was my answer.
I spoke with Greg every night and listened to his stories about the work I was missing for those two weeks. Jokingly, the night before our travel home began, I asked him what he would do if I decided that I didn’t want to be in Peru anymore. This was far from the truth of how I felt, but there was definitely a feeling of wanting to stay in my comfort zone again. At that point, after spending months wondering what it would feel like to go to the states, I now had the question of what it would feel like to return to Peru.
I have been home for 3 days now. Guess what? It feels like home. I am reunited with my husband (who I missed terribly), and I am where I know God wants me to be for now. Greg is my ministry partner. He did great while I was away. But we work as a team, and I am able to see relationships that missed me while I was gone. That is a good feeling. Our day yesterday encapsulates the work going on with our family. Manuela brought me a bouquet of flowers and we spent the morning catching up and talking about my trip and her study with Greg. Her hug that morning showed me that she missed me. We are praying so hard for her to join our spiritual family. She began her study with Greg on the Virgin Mary (more to come on that from Greg). After Manuela left, a member from our Wednesday night Bible Study came over to talk with Greg about our group and mission for this city. Greg finished that conversation in order to get to his Bible Study at the library. He returned shortly after with one of the women (the others were not able to participate) who I got to meet and enjoy her birthday cake. We visited and he got to hear her testimony.
I went to bed last night so thankful for where we are. God has blessed our time here and there is still so much going on. The United States will always be my homeland. Peru may or may not be my home for the rest of my life, but ministering in a place that God has called me to will be home, and for now, I feel like that is a good place.