Letter to My Future Self

The jet-lagged Holsten family at the start of their furlough.

The jet-lagged Holsten family at the start of their furlough.

We’ve been on furlough in the U.S. for a few weeks. It’s been great, but already I find myself needing to reassure my future self.

Dear Natalie of mid-August,

By now, you have enjoyed a few months of all the wondrous things that the Land of Plenty has to offer. You have spent time with your beloved family, visited friends and supporters, eaten way too much, bought clothes for the next few years, etc. And now, the dreaded moment has arrived.

It’s time to say goodbye, again. It’s time to wrap your arms around your parents and in-laws, kiss them, thank them for the good times, and say the awful goodbye. You will cry. Blubber like a baby is probably a more accurate description. You will think, ‘what the heck are we doing this for?’ You will wonder why you choose to straddle two worlds.

Years ago, you’d watch older, veteran missionary ladies and think, “Look at them – they’re okay; obviously, it will get better, easier with time.”

But now you know that, at least for you, it doesn’t get even a smidge easier. It’s just as heart-wrenching as it was 14 years ago, maybe even more so because now you know exactly how far away the airplanes will take you.
You will perhaps struggle to remember the good about where you live in Papua. The stressors will loom large in your mind: malaria, distance from everywhere, lack of good medical care, the draining heat of the tropics, the drunks, just a general feeling of vulnerability.

And so I want to remind you, Future Self, of the good you have experienced in Papua: the friends you have, your home, a fulfilling ministry, the school your kids love, the beautiful places. It’s hard to remember this when you’re sobbing your eyes out, climbing onto a plane that will take you 10,000 miles from your passport country.

But you just have to remember the good; turn to the kids and David, and remember the good. Speak to your Father, and thank Him for the good, and thank Him for giving you such family and friends that make it so hard to leave.

And then sit down, put on your seat belt, and go.

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