by Jill Lienemann, Kesher International Missions | ©2012
The question cut into my tranquil moment of soaking in the sights and sounds of the river rushing past the campgrounds of the mission trip. Mesmerized by the murky whooshing water, I didn’t notice the local youth come up next to me. Hmmm…was I missing my home, family and life in the United States?
Assessing my feelings, I surmised this was not the issue. Perhaps I was experiencing a different type of “home” sickness – a longing for the voices of others and my own thoughts to be silenced in exchange for an opportunity to just “be still” with God. (Psalm 46:10) It can be overwhelming to be transparent and accessible to others during a large portion of the day, especially if you are not naturally an extrovert. Even designated quiet times on your mission trip can be interrupted by unexpected needs that require your immediate attention. The result is your soul starts to yearn for time alone with the Lord. (Psalm 42:1)
“…the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” (Luke 5:15-16 NASB)
If you are not able to physically withdraw from your surroundings like Jesus did, be intentional in taking a spiritual break between the activities of the day. While riding on the bus to your next destination, meditate upon God’s goodness toward you and through you on this journey. “I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” (Psalm 143:5 NIV) When you sit outside eating your lunch, look up and marvel that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands…They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. ” (Psalm 19:1,3-4a NIV) As you stand in line for the bathroom, “Sing a new song to the Lord! Sing his praises from the ends of the earth!” (Isaiah 42:10 NLT) God will take these joyful praises (Psalm 147:1) and peaceful moments (Psalm 23:3) to refresh your homesick soul.
KESHER TIP (connection): Take Your Temperature
Frequently wanting to withdraw from others and isolate yourself on your mission trip may indicate something more serious than a case of homesickness. Feelings of frustration, anger, defensiveness, or being overly critical are symptoms of “culture shock” (a disorientation or anxiety that results from being in unfamiliar environment). Speak to your team leader about what you are experiencing so he/she can help you to adjust and adapt to your surroundings. Seek out your fellow team members – you may be surprised to know they are feeling the same way or can share with you how they coped. Most importantly, talk to the Lord who is ready to comfort and guide you in your time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)