In the whole process of coming home, people have asked me a lot of questions. I love answering them! But if there is one question that turns my brain into a big gelatinous pile of goo, it's this one.
So, Hillary, would you go back? Uuuhmmmm, aaaah, buuuuh, errrr..... Pretty intelligent and articulate answer, hey?
Would I do it again? Well, what does that mean? Did I enjoy the experience and would I hypothetically make the choice to repeat it? Yes, absolutely. Are there things I would do differently? Sure. But am I glad I went? ABSOLUTELY YES.
Would I actually, literally go back again to work as a missionary in Africa?
Well... I don't know. I really have NO idea.
I would LOVE to go back and see all the people I have grown to love again. It often makes me tear up when I think that it's possible that I may never see these people again. So, would I go back to visit? If the opportunity afforded itself, Absolutely yes, in a heartbeat.
Would I go back to do another short term experience? Well, maybe. It would be amazing to go back to Korr and live there for a longer +time. To continue to build the relationships I began there. To keep learning the language and the culture. To perhaps set up and run a "gap year" type remedial program where I could take kids out of the Kenyan cirriculum and help them catch up on their skills in math and English. To take struggling kids and give them confidence. To maybe run a Bible and discipleship class. There is so much I would LOVE to do with more time there.
But another short term experience would be a year at the most, according to AIM rules, and I wonder, would it be the most effective thing to go only for a year? If I went to Korr again, I'd at least have a LITTLE bit of a head start with language learning, figuring out 'how things are done,' getting to know people...
If I went somewhere else, it would absolutely not be enough time. I feel like I've HAD the short term experience "for me" now. The lessons I've learned, the things I've seen, the taste of missions. I mean, yes, I did what I could to contribute while I was there, but let's face it, I'm sure that I took away a heck of a lot more than I gave. That's just kind of the nature of short term missions, and that's ok. If I ever DID go back, though, I would want to really focus on and be effective in ministry. And that doesn't happen overnight. You have to learn language, build relationships, get a feel for what is really needed in the area where you're serving, and SO much more. And that takes TIME. I was only MAYBE beginning to lightly scratch the surface of that after seven months in Korr. If I went to a new place, it would almost seem selfish to go for just a year. It's not NEARLY enough time to get anything really effective started. (Yes, I realize that God can do anything with willing people who go for any amount of time, I'm not limiting Him here, but just looking at practicalities!)
So, then, would I go for longer than a year? Again, I don't know. Anything after a year, and fundraising gets to be much more of a bigger deal. There are set-up funds to raise - a house, materials, potentially a vehicle, all that stuff. Then there are month-to-month living expenses. And a ministry doesn't run for free. I'd have to also raise money for whatever I was planning to do. A "Gap year" remedial program? I'd need books, money for salaries, money for materials... a PLACE to run it... It's a lot for just two years. So would I go back for a full term (about four years) and become a career missionary?
All I'm saying is that for anything longer than a short term experience, things get a lot more complicated. There is a TON more fund raising to do and a whole lot more logistics to work out. Now, money is only money. Logistics are only logistics. Support has to be raised. Logistics have to be worked out. But if God wants me back in Africa, He'll work all that stuff out.
And so THERE is the REAL question: Do I feel that God is calling me back to Africa?
Some people come home from short term experiences and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are only home for enough time to get that support raised and get those logistics worked out, and they will be back. They know it.
Others come back from a short term experience and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God simply is not calling them into cross-cultural missions. Maybe they didn't have a good experience. Maybe there are health issues that require them to stay in their home country. Maybe it's just not their gifting. God definitely has a call on their life, but cross-cultural missions isn't it.
I guess I'm somewhere in between. I don't feel a huge pull to go back immediately (yet?), but I also wouldn't ever rule it out. I think there's a lot I would I really love about living and working as a missionary in Africa, should I sense God calling me back there. But I feel like I have to live HERE for a while now and just wait and see. It's not super clear right now, and I'm ok with that. And in the meantime, there's a heck of a lot I can think of to do HERE to support what's going on THERE.
Who knows what God will have in store for me down the road...