As we begin to wind down our time here in Buenos Aires, a lot of people ask us, "Are you excited to go home?"
Well, yes and no. We are excited to see our families. We can't wait to be with our friends. We are excited to worship in English, where we understand all of the nuances of the words we are singing or sharing. We will eat familiar foods and restaurants. We will turn on the TV and watch almost everything in English. Daniel can go to the gym. We can drive our own car. There are a lot of exciting things about returning that we can't wait for!
Sure, we will miss our friends and family here. We will miss speaking Spanish every day, needing to operate in a foreign language in order to survive and thrive. We will miss the public transportation, the beautiful old buildings, going to the grocery store every day, going to Spanish class, etc. We will miss our friends most of all... We are sad to leave, but excited to go back to the States.
Yet what we also realize is that we aren't going home. Not really. Sure, we love the United States, and we are proud to be from there. We aren't Argentines, although we love Argentina. We wouldn't really even be considered truly third cultured, having only been out of the US for a short time.
However, in some ways the US won't really feel like our home.
1. We aren't returning to the same circumstances that we left before: new jobs, new ministry, new city, new state...
2. We have missed a year's worth of culture. Sure, we have watched a few TV shows from the US. We have heard a few songs. We watched some movies from the US. (Actually, we saw more movies here than we probably would have watched in America since we had buy-one-get-one-free coupons!) However, we won't know all the cultural references. We won't know some new slang. There will be new songs on the radio, new shows on television, new references to pop culture that simply don't click with us yet.
3. Some things seem uncomfortable to us: being able to understand all of the conversations going on around us; everyone eating fast food or running from one event to the next; not taking a long time with friends over coffee or a meal; etc.
4. People have moved on with their lives, and so have we. We are not returning as the same people who left. We have grown and changed. We are different than we were before, and we won't be the same. We have been shaped by our experiences here in Buenos Aires, and we won't be certain how to explain it if you bother to ask.
Home Sweet Home? The return will be sweet, but a little bitter. We will realize, in those first few weeks, just how different life is from this moment on. It will be a transition, and it will take time to adjust to our new lives there. With the help of our friends and family, we will be able to transition back and make the States our home again. But this will take time and prayer...
Tomorrow, I will share some of the things that you should and shouldn't say/do to returning missionaries.