When I preparing to move to Peru, I wrote a blog on grief. As I now prepare to leave Peru for 6 months this year, I am revisiting my understanding of the grieving process.

When I moved to Peru, I made a conscious decision not to leave for at least 2 years, and preferably a little more, so that I could acclimate here. I knew that I needed to leave behind my life in the US for a long period of time to really adjust to the idea of being a long-term missionary. It was the right decision for me. I really struggled around the 7-month mark and I wanted to leave Peru, but I knew if I left that I would never come back. So, I stayed. My second full year here was rough for a variety of reasons and I didn’t love life here. Through all of this, the only thing that kept me here was that I knew that I knew that God had directed me to this time and place! So I stayed.

It’s only been in the last few months that I have turned a corner where I can say that I feel at home in Peru. That’s not to say that I don’t have my moments of culture-frustration still, but there are things about the US that bug me too! It would happen wherever I live. As I contemplated going to the US for 6 months for home assignment (furlough), I also started to contemplate all the things I was going to miss here. And I don’t just mean physical things; I mean all the moments, conversations, church meetings, and sunsets that I will miss too.

Living and ministering overseas means constantly feeling pulled between two cultures and yet, after a while, not really fitting into either culture. I’m not Peruvian and I will never be Peruvian, but I have changed. When I go back to the US, I won’t be able to fit back in the way I did before. Some of you are going to wonder what they did to me here! And I probably won’t be able to explain it to you very well. It’s just what happens. So, I’m also grieving the loss of the familiarity of life in the US and fitting in back there. Please be patient with me when I don’t know what to do in some really common situation.

I still get to tell the story often of how God used my friend Cindy’s status on Facebook to call me to Peru. I have never doubted the call – it was a terrifying clarity that I don’t get very often! I’m thankful that the call was clear and that it was confirmed by many people and circumstances in my life, because that assurance has helped me walk through many tough days in the last few years. And that assurance will help me through the grief that I feel now too.

As I look forward to my time in the US, my home, I am ecstatic about seeing everyone! I will be thrilled to be able to eat Cheez-its and drink Diet Dr. Pepper. I’ll probably have to limit my trips to Chick-Fil-A and Cracker Barrel so that I don’t over-do it! It will be a lovely time there, and I will thoroughly enjoy it, but I am going to really miss my life, my friends, my church, and my home in Peru.