Musings of a Returned Missionary:

There are pieces of us that we leave behind. Like the odd sock never found are the fragments that are never quite whole again. Life interrupted, uprooted, the pieces o f which can never quite be put back together the way they once were.

There is a part of my heart that belongs to another land. These pieces of me not lost but given, those that live on in my absence, lives we’ve touched, peoples and places that will never again be the same after the footprints of our influence has left its mark.

More are the pieces not lost but gained; the collage of faces and memories, the people and places that in touching, we have been touched, in changing, we have been changed. And neither will ever forget.

Many fragmented pieces scattered over time and space, of a heart that is both here and there.

This is our prerogative. For we are of those that belong not to a country, but to a race, the race of the Traveling Ones. Only those who that have lived this life will every truly understand. Yet, we are not seeking to be understood, but to understand, who we are and how we are to fit-in in a homeland that is so far from home, a place where we are neither foreigner nor citizen.

Such is the deep loss and the rich gains of a life well scattered. Pieces here and pieces there; pieces lost and pieces gained.

Each land, each culture, each tradition, has left its mark; people and places that will ever be a part of my conscience. Each is a precious piece put into place upon my heart as the mosaic of my life comes into focus. These are the broken fragments that make up a beautiful whole.

No, we will never be the same. Not the same as our old selves, not the same as the people around us. Broken, yet perfect. Fragmented, yet whole. This is the mosaic of the missionary’s heart.

By Marie Morrow

Taiwan - 2007
       I have just had the opportunity to travel across this beautiful island with my husband and our four children. We drove over the high, winding mountains of central Taiwan, at a breathtaking height of 3,400 meters. Even with a four wheel drive diesel van it was quite a climb. Our engine overheated on the way up, and our breaks overheated on the way down. Daniel even had trouble with altitude sickness. Yet the view was magnificent.
        In the mountains we visited an aborigine tribal village resort, inset in a small valley surrounded by towering peaks. I was equally as impressed with kind and friendly manner of the local tribe as I was with the exquisite scenery. The after dinner tribal show was simple and joyful. The children, teenagers and adults performed together like one big happy family, as they happily testified of their Christian faith and showed us the joy of their culture.
       The drive through the Toroko Gorge was one of the most spectacular views I had seen. We stopped many times to take in the beauty and wonder. I couldn’t help but think how greatly God must love this land. It is certainly a master piece of His creation. The greatness and majesty of God is so vividly displayed in His creation. He has surely put the touch of His hand on this place.
       Next we visited the East Coast. It had a beauty all its own. Winding roads curved along miles of coast where the mountains and the oceans meet in a delicate mixture of color and elegance. Sandy beaches and sparkling clear water, interrupted by rocky cliffs and coral reefs. The green of the landscape is enhanced by the many shades of light and shadow, as it basks in the summer sun.
        There our children went snorkeling for the first time. It was undoubtedly the greatest experience they had ever had. They said, “I had no idea it could be so cool. It’s better than National Geographic.” We saw puffer fish, lion fish, clown fish, eels, angel fish, and schools of fish to numerous to count. Even little Kristy, only six years old, learned to snorkel and shared this experience with us.
       From there we continued south to Kenting, where we joined up with two of my brothers and their families, for three days of fun in the sun—swimming and snorkeling along the southern beaches and rocky coastline. There I enjoyed a wonderful birthday with my family on the fun and lively evening shopping street. It was a truly happy time of my life.

        As we drive on the long ride home from Kenting to Taichung, I am too busy writing to see much more. I am thankful for the many pictures we’ve taken, but I want to write this story now, to capture every moment and save each memory.
        Yet I find that the images most impressed upon my mind are not those of mountains and seas. My mind is filled with faces, those faces I have seen and the people I have met along the way. And my heart aches as though it is bound in a cage. I am looking out through the bars, over this great nation and wanting so much to be a part of it, yet still I am held back by the language barrier. I can speak Chinese on a basic level, but I want so much more.
        Each person I meet has his or her own story, and I long to know that story. “What is it that makes you smile? And what has made you cry? What was life like when you were young? What are your dreams for the future? What do your children like to play? And what do they like to sing?” I long to peer into each home and family, to be a part of their world for a day.
        I have such high admiration for these people and road that they have walked. Each one is a precious soul that God loves so much. I wish I could get to know the lady selling flowers on the corner, the farmer planting rice in his field, the friendly student enjoying his summer, and the mother watching her kids in the park. Each person is unique and special.
        I don’t know why I feel this way. These people are strangers to me. Yet as I travel through each city and town I am overcome with an emotion I cannot control. It can only be described as Love! How can I love them so much? Why does it break my heart to be held back by my language limitations? Is this God’s love for them that I am feeling? Is His heart also aching to know them, to reach out to them?
       His love is so great and immeasurable. It stretches over the land and sea. Yet it reaches into the depth of our hearts to shine His light into every corner of our being. I have often felt this love in my life. It is my guiding light and my purpose. Yes, I do know this feeling well; I recognize it now. This must be what I feel when I see these people around me. It is God’s love for them that overwhelms me! Yes, I know this for sure, God loves Taiwan.

(After three years of Chinese language studies and living among the local people, my joy only grows. The freedom I find in being able to speak the language and communicate with the people has only served in increase my admiration and love for this amazing place. What a wonderful world God has made. It crosses all boundaries, oceans, lands, cultures and peoples. What a joy to serve as an ambassador of God’s Love to such an amazing world. – September, 2010)

Posted by Marie Morrow