Monday, December 2, 2013


It certainly hasn’t been what I had expected.

Before I left Papua New Guinea for the United States, I made lists of the foods I wanted to eat (blueberries! bacon!) and the activities I wanted to do (go to an apple orchard, go ice skating). I thought of all the people I wanted to see and the churches I wanted to visit. I listed out the various skills that I wanted to learn and the items I wanted to buy. I planned vacations with my family and dreamed of seeing fall leaves and Christmas concerts.

It wasn’t all rose-colored glasses—I knew home assignment was going to be chock full of its own set of challenges and uncertainty, but I hugged my fellow missionary friends, planned in margin, asked for prayer, and vowed with my family that we would be open about our needs.

All in all, my plans were overflowing with excitement and anticipation and eager expectation of what could be ahead.

And then, it actually happened.

Friends + Giant Bookstores = Lots of Happiness
In some ways, my expectations were surpassed like an Olympic high-jump. Who knew that I would meet so many people who would clasp my hands and tell me, “we pray for you every night” or discover that my friends from years ago would welcome me back with such hospitality and warmth that we could pick up with nary a stutter? I had forgotten the joy in so many little things of my home culture, of community in my church, of beauty in my home, of Christmas lights strung through the neighborhood, of the cold nose of my dog. Home assignment has indeed been beautiful and treasured.

But then, there’s been the other side—the side that has led to an unexpected silence on this blog. The side that speaks of sickness and anxiety and trauma and exhaustion which meant the first three months of home assignment were essentially a tired marathon swimmer splashing about in an attempt to tread water. And, as a result, it meant that I’ve had to let go of many of those exciting plans and expectations originally scribbled on my list, and at times, even consider how I need to change expectations of my future. It’s been hard and frustrating, and I’ve spent more than one occasion sobbing into my pillow, wondering why I even came back at all, if this is what it was going to be like.

No, not like I expected at all.

But, I imagine Mary didn’t expect to be divinely impregnated. Or Israel expect their king to prefer a shaggy donkey as a mount. Or John expect his beloved rabbi would be executed as a traitor.

Or the world expect that He would rise again after three days in the grave.

There are few things that we actually can expect with assurance of fulfillment—but I am thankful that those things are the ones that truly matter. As Charles Wesley puts it:

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

If you would like to read more about expectations and see photos from the last three months, check out my November 2013 Newsletter on the Newsletter’s tab. If you would like to be on my newsletter mailing list, please email me.