Life in a Foreign Country: Weird Cravings

"...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15

The other day I was in our living room and I had the weirdest desire.  I really just wanted to go to Walmart.

I know.  All the cars in the world just came to a screeching halt.  Even I did a double take at that one.

To be fair, I do appreciate certain aspects of Walmart.  I can get glasses there for pretty cheap, for example.  But the floating islands of merchandise?  Seriously...unless its $2 dvds, I’m not interested.  The congestion… aisles...people...products.  Sigh. It’s just not for me.

Give me Target any day.  Spacious aisles.  Style. Pretty competitive prices.  Clothes that last more than one washing.  And know what I’m talking about.

I guess the desire was just for familiar territory. Even if Walmart is not my number one choice, I can still navigate it and get out of there faster than at Target. Unless there is a back up at the registers...which there always is.  But I don’t have to think.  Everything that I would expect to be there IS there.

Living in a foreign country is fun.  It’s adventurous, especially when you get to see the fruits of your labor.  I read a book recently that said that there are some people who are just wired for travel.  That’s me!  I recognize it and feel it… a foreign language...signs I can’t extensive train system...and most of all, being able to communicate that message of hope to people who have never heard it before. Being able to disciple people in a challenging language, and see growth.  Worship in other tongues.

This is where my heart really connects and all the Christmas lights on my inner house come twinkling alive.

But sometimes, the familiarity of home is good, too.  (And I’m totally putting the family issue aside, because that’s a completely separate compartment in my mind and soul.) Familiarity is ease. But it’s deeper than that.  It’s associated with those warm-fuzzy-sweaters-on-cold-days feelings.  Drinking hot apple cider on a fall day.  A book on a rainy day.  And while I find familiarity here in stages and times, it doesn’t have the roots that a drive with the windows down on a sunny day has.

There are certain things I like to do when we go home that help connect me to my stateside self.  Like browsing Barnes and Noble with a coffee in my hand...making meals that remind me of good, hearty home with all the smells of Christmas excitement in the real liquid flavored creamer...drink Diet Dr. Pepper...wash laundry with fabric softeners I’m used to...use a dryer, the blessed machine!

And walk every single aisle of Target. As many times as I can.

by Janine Alvarado, Missionary to Japan