A Letter Welcoming You (Back or For the First Time) {The Grove: Welcome to the Field}

A Letter Welcoming You

Dear friend,

You’re back in your host country. Welcome back! Or maybe you’ve just arrived for the first time. In that case, you are so welcome!

I know you are feeling a world of emotions these days. You’re glad to be back in your own place and that some things are familiar. You bless God for your house helper able to come and help when you are jet lagging, something you didn’t have back in the US. It is a blessing to hear the language you are learning and see you haven’t forgotten it all.

But, even as you understand some of it, when you try to speak, you also remember that you are about two years old in your ability to speak it. You want others to know that you are actually intelligent, really. Because it doesn’t sound like you are.

You see your kids crying because they want to go back to the US. You see them struggling to adjust to the language they still don’t know very well. You are trying hard to help your family adjust to life back here but your heart is faint within you as you also face relational difficulty.

You are feeling the loss of community. Everything is new. Few things, if any, feel intuitive.

Oh friend, a few days ago as I climbed up the stairs to our apartment, I felt the weight of all this on my own shoulders. I mentally wrote a friend and the first thing that came to mind was, “Life overseas is perpetually stressful.”

Joy feels… elusive at best. Tears are near to my eyes. This morning the first thing I wanted to do upon waking up was to have a good cry after an especially rough night with one of our kids at our local worship gathering. I know without doubt that it is from the Lord and that He will do my daughter so much good through it, but oh, her sobs broke my heart.

In all this, the Spirit won’t leave me (all the praise hands!) He has been gently asking me, “Is there true joy, even in this? Is contentment an illusion during this season or is it something that actually already belongs to you?”

The Father has had my husband and I in the book of Philippians this year. It is no coincidence. And yesterday, as I read the last chapter I smiled.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, rejoice.”

Ok, Lord. I hear you. Rejoice – even when there is relational conflict – because my name is written in the book of life (4:3). Rejoice – even when Christ is preached from envy because he is proclaimed anyway (1: 18). Rejoice even when I am in difficult circumstances (like prison, maybe?) because through the prayers of God’s people and the help of the Lord Jesus I will be delivered (1:19).

Christ will be honored in my body. So I rejoice. I rejoice because Christ is my righteousness (3:9). Because I know Him, I have gained more of Him even as I experience the loss of all things. He alone is my LIFE. Oh man, yes, YES, Father. I will rejoice.

“The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Father, I love your use of words like anything and everything and always. So here I am – sharing all the things weighing heavy on my heart. I trust you will do what you say and that peace which passes all understanding will guard my heart and mind in the best place.

 “I have learned to be content. I know how to be brought low. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Oh Father, this is my season of hunger and need. And I bless you that through Jesus Christ I can be content (4:13). I can face this life in all its lack because Christ lives in me. He knew the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need with joy and rest in you. His delight was not to get his own way, to have his needs – physical, relational, or any other kind – met. His delight was to do your will (Psalm 40:8), to complete your plan, to bring glory to your name. And His life, his delight, His contentment is mine by faith. Thank you! Thank you that I don’t need to work hard to be content as if it was something I could work up on my own. Thank you that Christ gave me His joy (John 15:11). Help me to take hold of it by faith.

Dear sister, I am praying for you as you either resettle or start fresh where you are. I know very well these first few days, weeks (months?!) are hard. May the Lord sustain your joy and contentment through it all. His name and renown are the desire of your heart (Isaiah 26:8).

Yes, Lord, make yourself known to us and through us during this transition. We love you.

May the love of the Father, grace of Christ and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you today,

In His great, steadfast love,

Lilly

Are you returning to the field? Are you new? What are some hard things you are facing? Name them. What are some reasons you can still rejoice?

The Grove

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3 Comments

  1. Sarah Hilkemann August 16, 2019

    Thank you for sharing these sweet words, Lilly! I found actually the first time I returned to Cambodia was harder than when I landed the first time. There were fresh waves of grief, fresh frustrations that hadn’t been there before, and the adventure had worn off unlike the initial welcome to the field. I’m so thankful the Father sustains each in special ways each time we arrive. 🙂

  2. Spring August 17, 2019

    About to return for a third time. I agree with Sarah, the return seems harder. Thank you for your call to contentment. I think in returning it is parmount.

  3. Ivy August 19, 2019

    Thank you so much for this. I am going back to my host country in 9 days. It feels harder than the previous time. I was thinking I was too weak and not normal. I was quite frustrated. This honest post really comforts me at the right time. I found myself like Peter after falling in the water. I had an amazing experience walking on the water but I failed after the storm. I experienced Jesus rescued me but I was also called the little faith. Now I faced the water again on the boat and decided to step out again. It is not easier at all. However, I feel a little more faith to step out again. Thank you.

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