Even though Alan and I know that God has called us to serve in Africa as missionaries, it doesn’t mean that it is easy to leave our life here in the states. We are leaving everything we know; we are stepping out of our comfort zone.
Like everyone else, Alan and I have gathered belongings over the years (although we would have made more purchases if we never planned to go overseas). We’ve purchased a kitchen table and chairs, end tables, television, beds, dresser. We also have smaller items like yearbooks and photos. Nearly all of our possessions will be sold or given away. We will only save and store a few items with sentimental value.
We know how to do our jobs here in the states. Here, everything we need is available and accessible and we can consult our colleagues for their opinions. This is not always true overseas. I had the opportunity to observe some differences in nursing while we were in Kenya this past May. Alan will learn more about the counseling challenges over the next year.
We are leaving our own culture and stepping into a new one. We know what words and body language are offensive and unacceptable here. We understand most of the common slang, and nearly everything is conducted in our first language. To survive in Africa, we will need to learn to speak a new language (French for Cameroon) and learn the new social rules of the culture so we aren’t seen as rude.
We are also moving away from those individuals who fill significant roles in our life: family and friends. Recently, Alan and I were eating dinner with four good friends and having an enjoyable time when Alan leaned over and whispered to me, “Cherish this moment, because we won’t have this in Africa.” I wanted to cry right then and there.
Moves are always hard for me, once I’ve made them. Before they occur, I think that I am in a stage of denial. This was my experience moving from North Carolina to Florida 2 ½ years ago. On my last day of work, I walked around saying good-bye to my friends and coworkers with more smiles on my face than even on most of my good days. I wasn’t smiling because I was happy to be leaving; I didn’t even know why I was smiling. However, the next day when my car was packed and I was driving with all of my belongings towards Florida, I bawled for the next hour. I anticipate that our transition from the US to Africa will also be challenging for me, which will be a good thing as God grows me.