I've done this 5 times now. You'd think I'd know the answer...
You miss the faces, the little hands in yours, the smiles, the hugs, the love
You cherish the relationships you built with your team and partners overseas
You cry, sometimes, when you do once simple things like going grocery shopping and walking into your closet, overwhelmed by the amount of "stuff" here
You marvel at the memories of selflessness and the giving spirits of those who have nothing by our standards
But then what? What do you do?
It's hard. If you've ever done it, you know it's hard. And I don't know that there is one answer. For me, after 5 times, I think I'm learning; it doesn't always matter what you do. It matters that you do something.
It has never been my experience to learn nothing while overseas. Every experience brings new understanding to my life here, sheds more light on my life in the future, and expands my ability to love beyond my life in America. But how easily, how conveniently, and how subtly I can slip back into who I was before. I don't think that is ever His intention.
I don't think that everyone is called to drop everything and move over there forever. I don't believe I should yell at people I see not finishing their food because there are starving children in Africa. But I don't believe I was privileged to go over there just for some happy memories.
So if this applies at all to you, I can't tell you what to do. I can't tell you that anything you do is wrong. But do something. Let yourself be changed. Let yourself be new. Let yourself be different.
Even when your friends are sick of hearing about Africa. Even when your teammates aren't calling to tell you how much they miss it anymore. Even when no one understands why you can't be the person you were before.
Dare to change. Dare to tell. Dare to grow in the new skin you now wear. Dare to do...even if you have to do it alone.