It’s now Monday, and for family and friends, you all know that we made it back safely on Saturday. But it seems right and good to close out this year’s trip with a few words about our return trip home.
Everyone really did a great job of getting ready to go. I’m proud to say there was minimal scrambling as we did our final checks on weighing bags to be checked (thanks, Jay!) and got all luggage staged for transport back to the airport. Not a lost passport to worry about ANYWHERE!
Plus, the added bonus of an uneventful and on-time trip to the airport, which helped us to beat the big crowds to the check-in lines, in order to get plenty of table space in the food court!
No surprises going through security as we’d already been warned that there would be MANY checks and rechecks of our bags and our persons as we slowly made our way through screening before getting to the gates and then again before getting on the plane.
The plane landed on time, although for a while we had hoped we would get in early. Unfortunately, delays in Atlanta (imagine it was weather related) had us circling for a bit, but we made up for that time with the fastest trip through customs I’d ever had for a group! Word of advice: ALWAYS use the Mobile Passport app when returning to Atlanta on an international flight. What a time saver!
For our families, be aware that returning home can be harder than we may expect. We left with a sense of adventure, anticipating newness, change, and challenges. Some may have experienced a sense of community and closeness that we don’t have at home or a feeling of purposefulness that we don’t always feel. So don’t be surprised if there’s a kind of reverse culture shock as we return.
Encourage your missioner (because I sure have!) to keep a journal and write a reflection, including things like:
- Where did I see Christ this past week?
- What activity or situation really touched me or troubled me? or both?
- How have I changed? And why?
- (Or whatever else seems to be on my heart)
Because taking the time to pause and process what we’ve seen and felt and heard DOES matter. Making time for listening, to perceive those nudgings of the Holy Spirit that moves in and around and through us, helps to guide us in ways that change how we interact and connect with others, leading us towards loving as Christ loves us. It’s a journey and it begins with small steps, like listening for God’s voice.
So be patient with our missioners and encourage us all to share, for these next steps can help to ensure that this trip is more than just another week in our lives. Rather, it’s a way to develop and deepen our relationship with Christ.