It started when we’d only lived in Costa Rica for 13 days. Our family took a bus downtown. We found a taxi and managed the Spanish to get to the Children’s Museum. When we arrived, we made out the word “luz” (light) and eventually understood the museum was closed because of a power outage. We ended up in San José’s equivalent of Central Park, followed by a lunch together to celebrate Maddy’s birthday on our final day before starting the one year journey of language school.
Earlier this week, we celebrated Melanie’s birthday completing two birthday celebrations in Costa Rica for each member of our family. That’s one-third of Sam’s birthdays, a half of Maddy’s, and all of Ben’s, celebrated here in our new home.
Like that first celebration, each has included tastes of the great and the difficult parts of living in Costa Rica. Some have included exciting visits from grandparents. Some have included trips to the beach or to visit a volcano. Parties have included celebrations with new friends. Birthday wishes have come from all over the world – in two languages – from a dizzying array of sources: Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, texts, emails, and phone calls. We have felt loved.
And yet, we’ve also felt alone. Those trips have been reminders to our kids that this country isn’t their homeland. Those visits from grandparents are reminders we live far apart. Some of those new friends have already left to serve in other countries and those well wishes in Spanish are a reminder that we’re on a long journey to feel fully at home here.
And so we live holding those two realities in tension. We love our new home, we rejoice in the new experiences and new friends, and we are thankful for the love of the many people who make it possible for us to serve here. But, we also miss our family and friends in the US and Australia, at times we long for the comfort of “home,” and sometimes it’s hard not to focus on what’s been left behind.
The Bible regularly uses the language of the foreigner to describe the relationship between those who trust in Jesus and this world. In Revelation 21, the Apostle John offers a beautiful picture of heaven as a place where God himself will wipe away the tears of His people. Death, mourning, crying, and pain are no more. The “old order” will have passed away.
And that is our life, celebrating in a foreign land. There is some pain. Sometimes there are tears. But we know that the “old order” will pass away.