When you decide to embark on a journey that God has called you to, it's hard not to feel overwhelmingly excited and scared. You're traveling to new places and doing cool things and meeting new people. What could possible go wrong?
Most of the time, you're fortunate enough to get a little bit of training or warnings before you head off into the mission field and they do help a lot. They prepare you on the feelings of inadequacy and culture shock, as well as climate differences and what not to wear.
As prepared as you may feel, there is one thing that is hard to really brace yourself for: falling in love.
People fall in love all the time. With their forever partner and with their kids. The hard part of missions is falling in love with people and places that you will inevitably have to say goodbye to.
When you travel, you see cool tourist-y places and even some local gems, but it's more on the rare side that you get to really invest in people that actually live there. You enjoy your vacation or your trip and you go home. On a mission trip where you are working with people in their contexts, you fall in love with their reality.
Meeting new people is the best part of missions, subjectively. You live with people and you form forever bonds in a way that is hard to do with people back at home. Deep down, we know that our time with those people in those places is limited, so we're more than willing to dive in. But the diving in is what gets you in the best kind of trouble later on.
You open up and you're vulnerable. You talk about faith and God and what that all means to you. You help each other out because that's what the Lord has called you to and it's easy to think that way because you had to move to get to that place. Back home, it's hard to do "missions" because we know too much and we're not willing to be vulnerable with the people that we have to see on a regular basis.
In this vulnerability you find love. It's the kind of love that you choose to fall into because it's so sweet and temporary. We're scared of the permanent.
In that fear, it's hard to leave that love behind. It hurts just as much as regular, everyday love does and it makes you think just as crazy.
"What would happen if I just don't get on that plane and stay here forever?"
"How can I leave this place and this people behind?"
"What if I never come back?"
Despite all the rough feelings, this is one of the best things that can happen to you. Diving into these relationships is worthwhile and will impact you for the rest of your life. You have them to go back to.
The hardest part of missions is falling in love and realizing that you're not doing the same back home. We're not investing such a love in the people right next door and we're missing out.