Author: Shawna Jerch, Go To Nations Missionary to Thailand
Wanderer: (n) a person who travels aimlessly.
When I think of this person, I think of someone who has no place to call home. And sometimes I feel like that person, wandering about, never establishing roots deep enough to consider a place home. Yet most of the time, this description doesn’t really fit me. Because, after all, I don’t feel homeless or lost.
I was surprised by the feelings I experienced in my unanticipated arrival back into the States. Yes, I had been planning to go home for the past month, but it still caught me off guard. To be honest, I had been worried about it. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I was worried that my one week at home wouldn’t be worth it because it would only make the feelings of leaving home more fresh, a sort of teaser. Yet the whiplash that thrust me back into my parent’s large home in a small town in the US and then back en route to Thailand, had an effect quite contrary to what I expected.
As I entered the beloved “US of A” I was met with the stark contrast of cultures. Americans with their harsh demeanors, lofty words, and loud voices surrounded me and I found myself homesick for Thailand already. Each day I divvied up my time between family members, friends, and favorite restaurants, trying to savor each moment. And I did. I recognized the value of this time that I wasn’t supposed to be given with my family, and enjoyed it.
Surprisingly though, I found myself homesick for Thailand. Thailand, the place that I hadn’t planned to live in, the place I was in merely out of obedience to the call of God. And as I spent a mere 7 days away from my new home, I became even more aware of how God’s grace is over my season there, how He is already knitting my heart to the people and the land.
I was happy to feel this way because it helped me look forward to my return, after a short-lived visit with family. And yet, I felt even more torn because of it. Will I always feel homesick? Like I would fit better in the place I’m not? Like I don’t really have a home that I can go back to and feel completely established? Is this just part of being a missionary?
Then I realized: being a missionary requires making a choice. Daily. It is choosing not to succumb to permanent homesickness, always longing for the home where you aren’t. It is choosing to make every stop a home, whether through relationship, routine, or redecorating. It is treasuring where you are rather than emotionally dwelling somewhere else. It is realizing that you are not a homeless wanderer, but a belonger, a citizen of many lands.
I want to be a “glass half full” kind of girl, and for me that means continually realizing the blessing of having many places to call home, and that I have family dispersed throughout the nations. I have surrendered, by choice, to the lifestyle of a wanderer. But I refuse to be a lonely one. I am a belonger.
If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:15-1
Author: From a young age Shawna has had a desire to see the world, but when she was in High School God called her to experience it through His eyes. She attended Bible school at Christ for the Nations Institute, and in March of 2016 she began her two year apprenticeship in Chiang Rai, Thailand. She now ministers by sowing the love of Jesus in the many searching souls that roam the continent of Asia.