Recently, I came across an article that stated, “’The process of coming home after living abroad is simple and stress free.’ This is a quote from no one… ever.” Nate and I can personally attest that repatriation is everything but ‘simple and stress free.’ The initial weeks can be exciting; reuniting with family and friends, rediscovering traditional homemade foods, visiting favorite travel destinations, reliving past memories, and exchanging stories with loved ones. Then reality sets in. We are no longer expats, we are in our native land. But somehow we don’t fit in anymore, in our own homeland. I think each person’s journey back is different based on his/her experiences and length of time abroad. Nate and I didn’t have time to prepare for our unexpected return to the USA. Neither of us felt “ready” to come back.
We have been back in the USA for a year. Many times I think that I am well-adjusted and ‘fit in.’ Then moments later, I find myself with tears streaming down my cheeks in a sea of uncertainty and confusion. A veteran missionary once shared this piece of wisdom with me before my first overseas assignment, “After you depart, you will no longer fit in anywhere.” What did he mean? In my new culture of Japan, I would be bringing along my American way of life and logic, sticking out as an expat in the new foreign land. Then when I’d return to my homeland in the USA; my new experiences, customs, and thought processes would tag along, no longer allowing me to ‘fit in’ there either. This can be frustrating as this is where you are suppose to belong, yet you don’t have the same ideas, expectations, and interests as you did before you left.
Nomads, world travelers, wanderers, and frequent flyers tend to latch on to each other both living aboad as well as returning to their homelands. These co-globetrotters often have many things in common and are experiencing the same challenges to “blend” into a new culture or their own homeland. I feel connected to current and former missionaries as I can relate to them and vice-versa.
Now living in the USA, I am drawn to others who have relocated here. Everyone has a story. Listening to others’ journeys and struggles draw me closer to Christ as I am reminded, “we all are but strangers here, heaven in my home.” A place where we will no longer need to “fit in,” but an eternal home where our Savior welcomes us with open arms.
Reference Article : Landing Well