Usually, when it’s been a long time since I’ve last written, I end up so torn between speaking in long-term generalities and dealing with way-too-many overly-specific topics, that nothing effectual gets put into words. Even saying this now is a cautionary attempt to avoid either of those extremes… but I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high if I were you.
As things look now, my boss asked us to stay here for another year. Another year?!? A whole ‘nother year. I thought you guys were only going to be in Mongolia for a few months? So did we. But you guys hate the cold. We did. And we still do. But wasn’t work going really slowly? Why yes. Yes it was.
My boss’ vision is for us to build a network of contacts and a base of community involvement that sets a foundation for effective change, relational growth, and yes, at some point, even business contracts. And he wants us to do this while the local economy is running the other way. His goal is to be in places, as a business and as Christians, where everyone else is leaving, money is no longer coming in, and the economy is in need, not in boom. As such, I’ll be teaching English part time in the fall so that we can obtain year-long visas, and we’ll be needing to leave the country in a few weeks’ time in order to properly secure those visas.
To be honest, there was a range of emotion on both our parts, when we found out that, barring something monumental, we would be where we are now, with the jobs we have now, with the people we know now, for at least a year to come. Relief, in not having to move. Apprehension, in getting stuck. Prospect, in finally being able to personally invest in people. Uncertainty, and a fear of settling. Trust, in being so readily provided for. Apathy, in an unbending horizon and a sinking. ‘welp, this is it’. And honestly, each one of those emotions could and should be written out into a post of their own and expanded upon.
So much of our lives and our marriage has been characterized by fluidity; It’s a shock to the system to have this much of our lives planned at one time. It’s more than as if we’ve come to a halt, it’s as if we’ve come to a halt by impact. The adjustment to stability hasn’t been the easiest to ingest for either of us.
We’ve had to fight boredom and unproductiveness, too much time on our hands, apathy, lack of discipline, lack of community, even borderline depression. Unwelcome habits and petty squabbling. Loneliness and resurfacing insecurity. It’s hard to change from one perceived set of liberties and boundlessness to something altogether more rigid.
But there’s a wealth of opportunity and a whole new set of freedoms that we’re incredibly excited to experience. Friendships that last. Jobs that increase in pay, status, rapport, ease, familiarity. A chance to learn and actually use a language. Something to put on the resume that’s lasted for more than a month. A chance to talk about raising a family. More clothes than can fit in a backpack. Turning a place into a home. Consistent fellowship and even discipleship. An address.
We struggle now with real things. Compulsion and obsession. The pressure to perform in real jobs. Discernment and obedience. A discipline to invest. Balancing passion with desire with obligation with preference with need with wisdom. It’s very much as if we’ve run out of clear answers and obvious guidance. And all we can do is trust the Spirit of God in us to act on our behalf, and willfully subdue selfishness and impulsiveness when they come up.
We’ve been asked to battle with the question: why are you here? Of all the places, with all the jobs, in all the situations. With jobs you’re unsure of, with an uncertain purpose, with questionable fulfillment and a secular context and a not-too-high salary and a country you never intended to care for – why are you here?
And a part of our old, passionate, indulgent reckless seize-the-day self groans in protest at the answer that we’ve come up with, but we have a hard time ignoring such wise words, given to us by a passing preacher:
Impatience must be subdued by trust.
That in the end, we’re here because this is where the Lord has us. Is it everything we dreamed of, or hoped for, or imagined? No, not really. But we’re content, and even happy to oblige.
Maybe it’s part of growing up, or maybe it’s part of maturity, or even Christianity – but we’re finally at a place to not only accept, but to fight for where the Lord places us, in all its untapped opportunity.
We were warned, by this same pastor, that so many people wreck their lives, because they try to force things that aren’t ready to happen. And we can so be those people, if we’re not careful. That word subdue is so fitting for us, who can dash the world to pieces in a heartbeat, but can’t stand in one place long enough to finish a conversation.
So many people struggle with the ‘going’, the call to move, to pursue, to chase after, to self-realize. And we’re just not those people. For us, the call to trust comes with the call to discipline, to patience, to investment, to endurance, and that, no less, in the one fully-enduring city among one of the world’s last and proudest nomadic populations.