Homesick


If you were to listen to the conversations among MAF staff members here at language school in Indonesia, you would think, “Those poor souls are so homesick.”

We don’t think we’re homesick, or at least we don’t call it that. Homesickness is something ten-year-olds contract at summer camp. We did not ask people to partner with us so we could sit around and talk about the foods we miss.

But we talk about food, a lot. Barbeque chicken wings, goat cheese, sushi, risotto, Twizzlers— we miss it all. Our homesickness leaks out in other ways, too. We drop the names of old friends as if they are mutual or famous. Rumors of a care package get around faster than you can open a box.

JoyNeal-IndonesiaRecently a question occurred to me: If I were home eating Michigan blueberries right now, what would I miss about Indonesia?

No sooner did I ask myself the question than I wanted to cry, because I really miss blueberries, and because Indonesia is home in a different way but just as surely as the Midwest. I would miss it so much. I would miss palm trees, afternoon rainstorms, and our MAF colleagues whom my son knows as aunts and uncles. I would miss nodding to other drivers as our scooters pass on the road, buying tropical fruit at a stand on my way home, and stumbling through conversations in a language that’s growing familiar but still requiring of grace.

As we’re turning the page to our assignment, this question has helped me maintain focus. What will I miss? For as much as we’re a little homesick and excited to finally “arrive,” I’m intent on being fully present in the meantime, which has been a precious and necessary space between what we left – family, friends, country, Twizzlers— and the work we’re here to do.

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