This is a question that has been creeping up in me over the past few weeks.
|a view of Kalimpong|
I left the states eight months ago as someone other than who I am now. Time changes you. Foreign culture changes you. Life changes you.
If I am not the person who left the states, when I return will I still belong there? Of course my family (and bestest friends) will accept me and love me, but what about everyone else. And will I ever really belong in in passport country once I have spent so much time away? Do I even want to belong there anymore?
Since October when I arrived in hilly Kalimpong I have been trying to figure out where I belong here and make a place for myself. My place has been my cozy room, "Miss Sarah" to Manju and Jeewan Loy. It has also been "sathi/friend" "didi/older-sister" or "bhieny/younger-sister" to many people here.
|a wall in my cozy room|
What I would love to have is a feeling of belonging within the culture. There are two prongs that come against this desire. First: cultural/language learning would have had to the focus of my time here. Second: cultures like the Indian/Nepali culture are deeply reticent to allow anyone from outside to ever become "part of the group." If it is even possible to become "part of the group," to belong here, if would have to take years or even decades of dedication and self-sacrifice. I have been here long enough to realize that I don't belong, but not long enough to think about ever belonging.
This is such a hard thing. Over the past few months I grown a love for these people-of-the-hills as I have lived on top of their hills. Their hills are beautiful. They are beautiful. Their faces draw me into wanting to know what is behind the brown eyes that are nestled midst the soft brown skin of their round expression.
It is a tough thing to know that I will never belong.
|Sister at a Distance|
Some ladies and I were talking about this issue of belonging and our concept of "home" after living in a foreign country. One of the ladies shared this verse:
"Lord, you have been my dwelling place (home) throughout all transitions." Psalm 90:1
|this world is not our home|
I am discovering the richness in not "belonging" in any particular culture.
It is so beautifully true. The Lord is our home and his Spirit is our dwelling place, no matter how many transitions our life takes us through.
I am not fully American, nor am I fully something else.
|No matter how much color I am smeared with I am still white.|
I hope that I am becoming something more like what Sherwood Lingerfelter calls in his book "Ministering Cross-Culturally," a 150-percent person, someone who is 75-percent their passport culture (which means becoming less than 100-percent) and also becomes 75-percent their ministry target culture (which he acknowledges that you can never become 100-percent). He calls this the "incarnational model for personal relationships," and reminds us that as Jesus became incarnate, fully man to reach men, and that is how we should approach cross-cultural ministry (24).
There is a beautiful stretching when this happens. You become less of what you were and maybe more of what God intended you to be. This is Kingdom culture.
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit." Ephesians 2:19-22
|I will never be their beautiful brown but I want my hands to touch them like Jesus.|