Thursday, June 21, 2007

How Colombia became HOME

The night before we left the USA to fly back to Colombia, a friend asked me if I felt like I was LEAVING home (USA) or GOING home (Colombia). It was an interesting question, because I was having a mixture of feelings about that myself. My answer was that while I’m on my way there, I feel like I’m leaving home… but once the plane starts to land, I feel like I am going home!

On the trip back the ¨going home¨ feelings started sooner than I expected. In Miami, when I got in line at the Avianca Airlines counter to check in for the flight, I started to hear all the different Colombian accents from the other passengers in line around me… people from the Coast, others from Medellin, and others from Bogotá! I immediately felt like I was transported to Colombia and all of the sudden I wasn’t LEAVING home anymore… I was GOING home!

I believe that this phenomenon is a GIFT that God gives a missionary. In my case, it didn’t happen right away. As a matter of fact, I would say that it didn’t happen until after about 3 years of living in Cartagena. During those first 3 years I knew that I was in Colombia out of obedience to God, I had no doubts about that! But I knew that I lacked the feelings in my heart…a love for the land, an acceptance of the people, an appreciation for the culture, etc. I prayed for three years that God would put feelings in my heart to go along with what I knew in my head.

It happened one day, totally unexpected and out of the blue. I think it was January 2000. Jorge and I had been in Mexico on vacation with his family and as usual I had a certain sense of dread as we were saying our goodbyes at the airport, getting ready to return to Colombia. I wished I could just stay there with them in Mexico! But I felt the same thing every time I returned to Colombia so I knew that it was part of the transition process and I learned not to pay too much attention to those feelings.

Usually the sense of dread got stronger as the plane was about to land in Colombia. Kind of like when you’ve been on vacation and you dread the first day back to work (maybe some of you can relate?) But this time something different happened that I have no explanation for other than to say that God decided it was time to answer that prayer of mine.

As the plane started to land, I was looking out the window and got a peek of Cartagena from above. I could pick out Bocachica, our apartment complex in Cartagena and the YWAM elementary school in the poor barrio of San Francisco. All of the sudden I started to feel butterflies in my stomach… I was excited and I had this deep sense in my heart that I was HOME! The feeling just got stronger as I was in the airport, and then in the taxi on the way to our apartment. I was so excited to see all the familiar sights along the way, even to smell the familiar smells (good and bad)! I had a big knot in my throat and tears welling in my eyes and all I could do was thank God for the miracle he had done in my heart because I knew it was a GIFT that He had given me! I knew that he had answered that prayer. I had always expected it to be a gradual process but for me it happened very suddenly!

Ever since then, when I fly to Colombia, I am going ¨home! ¨ Now that I am on the other side of that time of testing it’s easy for me to understand why God allowed it to happen that way and I am thankful for it. I’m sure the lessons I learned from that will carry me through many other tests and trials. There were many lessons to learn along the way but the main thing was about PERSEVERENCE! Not giving up, not turning back, and hanging in there even when my feelings and my flesh only wanted to look for the nearest escape route! God is so gracious and merciful and patient with us as we learn these lessons in life.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Karen

This was a great story!

Kurty Boy

Desteni said...

Amen.