What do I miss the most?

The other day a Bible college student stopped by our house to do an interview with us for his Introduction to Missions class.  It was an interesting visit for us because this young man was actually a little boy in our first-ever "children's mission conference" that we directed years ago.  It's exciting for us to see him now preparing to serve the Lord with his life.  We enjoyed chatting about missions and life overseas.  One of his questions was "When you are in Peru what do you miss most about the United States?"  I actually had to pause and ponder his question for a moment.  Nothing immediately jumped into my mind.  Sure, we greatly miss family and friends.  We also miss fellowship with our local church and hearing someone else preach in English.   In the end I decided to give him a very spiritual answer:  "I miss Lexington-style Barbecue the most!" 

Last week marked the tenth anniversary of our arrival in Peru.  We'll never forget that sunny fall day when we loaded up all of our possessions and headed to the airport for the start of a remarkable journey with the Lord.  On that first trip we spent months carefully making lists, assembling, and packing our bags.  We had to decide what was most important and what we "couldn't live without."  We managed to board the plane with 8, 70 pound bags and 3 jam packed carry-on bags.  It seemed we were leaving so much behind.  Favorite books, photo albums, nick-knacks and more had to be left behind.  In the early years each time a visitor would come for a visit we'd send a list of things we "just had to have."  They'd bring cans of soup, special spices and even Little Debbie Cakes.  We'd think of things that we missed so much.  Then something interesting happened:  We stopped missing things from the states.

You see, I believe that God gives us a love for the people, places and culture where He calls us to go.   He helps us to adapt and feel at home even in a land far from where we grew up.  We began to love the Peruvian people more and more each day.  The longer we lived in Peru the more we appreciated the Peruvians and their way of life.  We started to love their food, their language, even how they drive!  When a visitor would come from the states we had a harder time thinking of things we wanted them to bring.  Things left behind at home seemed just like a distant memory.  God grew our love for Peru and her people!  Now we realize we didn't have to leave anything behind but we gained so very much.  We gave up a few worthless worldly possessions and God gave us something better. 

Sure, we still miss things from the states.  Don't worry-we are still proud, patriotic Americans.  We still enjoy receiving a care-package with Little Debbie Cakes or some grits.  You'll just have to understand that we love Peru too!  Hudson Taylor, well known missionary statesmen in China once said, "If I had a thousand lives , I'd give them all for China!"  Apparently a love for a new homeland is a gift that God gives all missionaries.  I'm thankful for that.