There was a man living in a village somewhere. He was a foreigner but he spoke the language, dressed like the villagers, lived in the same kind of home and ate the same food. He had lived in the village for many years and he was very close to the people that lived there. One day, another foreigner came to visit the village. He asked the villagers about the man who had been living with them for so many years.
"Is he one of you?" He asked.
They answered "No, he will never be one of us. He will always be a foreigner."
Someone told the missionaries here this story a few months ago. And this story has yet to leave my soul.
When I moved to Mongolia my intention was not to become Mongolian. I came to see and share when I can, always knowing I am not the same, I don't have to be and I shouldn't be.
Over the past 9 months I have learned an incredible amount about this culture and what it means to live here [I learn more each day]. These people have become so ingrained in my heart--making them like family to me. Their lives have very much changed mine.
While I was at camp I felt like I was living that story. Speaking [some], sleeping, eating and acting like the people around me. I still stuck out buy I blended a little better than I used to. Although there is peace and comfort that has come with time and coming to know the art of blending--there also comes an overwhelming awareness of my separation. I am innately and intricately different.
Thoughts about separation have been floating around in my head but I can't quite figure out what I am to be learning from them. Here's what I've come up with...
Being separated from people you love is hard--especially when it's because of who you are. You can't change that.
Separation creates a bridge for a broader family, forcing us to find commonalities and to capitalize on them.
Separation requires cultural sensitivity, where not only do you watch how things are done but you learn and it becomes a part of who you are.
Separation is humbling.
I know that separation, though it hard and seemingly unwanted, allows for people to be who they are. I am about that.
When we deny our differences it's like we are denying a part of where we came from. In no way do I ever want the people I am around to change because I am there.
I think in the end, an ability to be comfortable with being separated and different fosters an idea of unity. Not fighting separation allows us accept it and be free from letting it matter.
Separation is freeing because it has no expectations. We are free to be who God created us to be and we are free to love other people in their created image.
A realization of our differences allows us to see how big and vast our God is. It allows us to see facets of Him we didn't know before and allows us to love bigger.
So, although camp was really hard by way of feeling like an outsider, when I allowed myself not to worry about being considered an outsider and just participated, I was blessed.
I found an understanding that celebrating not just separation but difference is yet another way to be pointed to our Creator who has created each person in a beautiful and grand image.