Last month Connie and I hit the 6-year mark of our move to the USA after 26 years in Kenya. We are nearing the end of the formula for transition back to home culture; for every four years living in another country, it takes one year to adjust upon return. In this final year, here are the new adjustments and discoveries.
The first three years back were quite hard! In that time period Connie and I
- lived with my aging parents and then mourned their passing
- struggled to explain who we were because of living in Africa for so long
- both of us finished college degrees
- bought our first home
- merged haltingly into the American workplace and workpace
- were forced to learn many new ways people communicated and took in information
- traveled a lot to several countries and states
We may never fully process the deep places of how Kenya impacted us. It has become a moving target as we have six years of life between now and then. Even pictures look different in 2020 than they did in 2014!
We have experience and relationships in several cultures that broaden our understanding of Scripture. When the Bible talks of things such as suffering, shepherds, community, healing and so much more we know Christians immersed in it in India, Africa, Guatemala, England and USA. This enriches our own walk of faith with Jesus because the global Body of Christ is living out the same Scripture in very different but equally faithful ways.
Each generation needs to find their own voice. As people reach new stages in life and as they grow spiritually they will discover for themselves the things we already know. It takes grace to rejoice with them and offer encouragement instead of wondering what took them so long. It takes faith and humility to allow them to lead, and to now learn new things from them. It takes confidence and peace within ourselves and with God to accept how right and fitting all of this is.
We now have several grandchildren. When I held Zayn for the first time last October, I turned to Connie and said, “Five grandchildren! That’s a LOT!!” By far, this is the sweetest transition of all. The best is yet to come.
Finally, these things have not changed at all in the last 6 years
- God’s Word
- God’s global kingdom and what we can learn from Christians around the world
- The need to be students of culture in order to shape culture
- The vulnerability and beauty of all people around the world. The current global pandemic shows that we are all equally susceptible to being infected with an illness we cannot see and remarkably illustrates how quickly the world can change if we are injected with a good thing that we cannot see; the Holy Spirit of God when we believe in Jesus His Son. As our friend Victor John says, “The Gospel must have a viral affect to reach the ends of the earth.”
Thanks for the opportunity to share our journey.