Expats (ex-patriots) are an interesting style of people. They need to be comfortable with NOT having definitive answers to the following questions:
- Where exactly am I going to live?
- What exactly will my work look like?
- Will I adapt to the language and culture quickly?
- Do I have the right paperwork to get a visa?
- Will I be okay with changing my relationship with family, friends, and coworkers to a virtual one?
- Which of my things qualify as important enough to earn a coveted spot in my two suitcases?
- Will I make enough money to get by?
- How do I apply for international healthcare?
- Will there be coffee? (okay maybe not all expats are worried about this, but we are!)
I would love to say that we are cool expats who are totally comfortable with not having answers to the questions above, but the reality is that… some things make us pretty nervous! I think in general we have an unsettled feeling of not really knowing exactly what the future will look like.
But isn’t that the same for all of us?
While we are moving to another country and making a major life change, we have realized that many others have the same feelings of unsettlement that we do. The other night we were hanging out with fellow teacher friends who don’t know exactly what grade they are teaching or what exact position they will hold in the next school year, but they are excited to tackle whatever might come their way. In a similar way, many of our family and friends are expecting for the first time and about to dive into a whole new world of parenting feet first. Even our students are having similar feelings of unsettlement: many just graduating from 8th grade or high school not knowing exactly what steps to take next.
In reality, the expat list we made above is the same for everyone no matter what country they live in. Check out the similarities. Ever had any of these feelings?
- Should I buy a house or continue to rent? Should I dorm or stay at home? Do we need a different house?
- Do I love my job? Should I strive for something different? Can I do my job better? Is my work-life balance right?
- How can I build better relationships with family, friends, and coworkers? Will I have friends?
- Are my finances in order? Is my healthcare the best one? How am I going to pay this bill?
- Do I really need to buy that?
- WHERE IS THE COFFEE?!?
As we all walk through life there will always be an unsettled feeling. Don’t forget: We do not belong here and our worries should not be about here!
“No acumulen para si tesoros en la tierra, donde la polilla y el oxido destruyen, y donde los ladrones se meten a robar. Mas bien, acumulen para si tesoros en el cielo, donde ni la polilla ni el oxido carcomen, ni los ladrones se meten a robar. Porque donde este tu Tesoro, alli estara tambien tu corazon.” Mateo 6:19-21
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
For us unsettled folk (every single one of us) it is special and comforting to remember the calmness exemplified by Jesus when sleeping through a furious storm in a boat (Matthew 8:23-27). The disciples must have been so frightened and full of uncertainty: Who is this guy I dropped everything to follow? What direction am I headed? Did I do the right thing? Jesus, asleep in the stern, knew best and did what only He could do by calming the storm and simply asking for faith from the disciples.
In a similar way, we are slowly learning, as the disciples did, that Jesus is in control no matter how uncertain life may get.
- We have recently said good bye to many students and teachers at St. Marcus whom we consider our family. It is difficult to say good bye, but imagine the disciples who left their families not knowing if or when they would return! What a comfort technology is, especially with anticipating how hard it will be to say goodbye to family in a couple weeks. We look forward to many skype dates with fam and friends and future visits.
- We are also learning to trust in God as we work through many phone calls with insurance companies, the Chilean Embassy, United Airlines, and even the Secretary of State. Man what a roller coaster of emotions these phone calls and paper work have brought but again what a blessing to know that God will work everything out according to his plan… whether we understand this Spanish document or not.
- Stuff is stuff. Getting rid of our earthly treasures puts life in perspective and is a financial blessing in disguise.
- We don’t know exactly what our work or home will look like but we do know that the members of the Chilean congregation and our new coworkers are excited to help and support us. We also know that so many people back home will be praying for us and the Chilean mission. Pray is powerful and such a comfort.
- We don’t know if there will be coffee…but tea is a much heathier transition.
All in all, we are all expats. Heaven is our home and earth will always be uncomfortable. God has and will continue to calm the storms and guide our boat. And He is God so He can simultaneously calm your storms and guide your boat too! God is good, and his plan always works.