It’s been just over 50 hours since I arrived home from Armenia and I’m still trying to work out what “normal” was or is for me. Our 20-day mission trip was the experience of a lifetime and my mind is so addled by the events of the past few weeks that I’m struggling a little to adjust back to life in Montreal.
On a somewhat superficial level, I’m doing what needs to be done: banking, responding to emails, grocery shopping, laundry, organizing my to-do list, etc. But on a deeper level, I’m aware that, even as I move forward, I can’t simply shove behind me the people I met, the places I visited, the sights I saw, the sensations I felt, the things I learned… Our time in Armenia wasn’t a vacation from work or simply a change of scenery and pace. I lived life more intensely in those three weeks than I normally do in three months.
I met dozens of new people and forged potentially long-term relationships with many of them. Each of those relationships deserves thoughtful follow-up and nurturing. We visited a poor farming village (Horom) that captured a piece of my heart and beckons me to return one day, if God calls me and opens the doors for me to do so. In the meantime, there are ways to support the work being done and the workers there (and elsewhere in Armenia) that I need to explore.
I observed a culture that is inherently mine and yet somewhat foreign to me as a Canadian-born Armenian. I held my breath and gripped my seat as we wove through Yerevan traffic at breakneck speed. I entered homes that are barely standing up or have no indoor plumbing. I observed how God’s love changes lives and brings hope. I tasted just-picked fruit and just-baked bread. I walked through ancient buildings and was mesmerized by geological wonders. I met cousins and great-aunts I had previously only known existed because of the family tree I’ve been working on. I began to relearn to read in my mother tongue.
These past two nights since our return, the most obvious evidence that I’ve been affected by this trip has been my inability to stop my brain and settle into sleep. On our first night back, fatigue and jet lag combined with dizzying mental activity to give me nightmares. I woke up at one point not knowing where I was, staring at the fuzzy dark walls in my bedroom and trying to figure out where in Armenia I was. But I’m told that all of this is normal. I think that, as an introvert who has spent the last 17 years working alone at home, three weeks of constant activity and human interaction pulled me so far out of my comfort zone that I feel like I need a map to find my way back.
And yet I’m not sure I’m meant to go back, even if it’s possible. I’m not sure what my new reality is yet. I’m not sure how the next couple of days, weeks or months will unfold. I’m only sure of one thing:
If you’d like to see all the photos from our mission trip and find out more about the outreach we did, please click here. Thanks for your interest! In the next little while I’ll share more specific anecdotes and inspirational thoughts drawn from this trip.