Have you traveled to a lot of countries? Or have you lived overseas for a while?
I’m sure you’ve heard people say to you as you returned, “Welcome home, it must be so good to be back!” Ever had that feeling that you don’t quite belong anymore? Well, I have too.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about where I belong and if I still fit into my own culture. Over the last two and a bit years of living overseas in Australia and Papua New Guinea, home has become several places and people to me. It is a beautiful thing because it broadens my perspective and makes me understand the world better, but it can also make me restless. It is easy to feel like I’m always missing out on something, and I probably am! But I think that just comes with the choice of leaving the comfort of the familiar things and embracing a new culture.
Coming from the Netherlands it was dangerous for me to think that maybe my people don’t even really have a culture after experiencing the rich traditions and beauty of Papua New Guinea (PNG). I felt disconnected from the land where my roots are and even though I have a deep love for the nation of PNG, I know that it’s not possible to just become part of another culture. That left me floating around in a place of not knowing where I belonged.
Recently I went back home for a holiday and because a friend was visiting that had never been to the Netherlands before, we did quite a few touristy things that I normally wouldn’t have done by myself. This led me to rediscover love and pride for my tiny country and its big history. It made me see again that there are stories hidden behind every old city, every stretch of flat land, and every body of water. Stories of overcoming and of a people that are not afraid to speak the truth. Those are my people and I am proud of it.
So, long story short. I do think that knowing where you come from and having a sense of love for that place is important, but it is not necessarily where you belong. Ultimately God calls us to go. That can mean going to the people that are right near you, or it might mean going to a completely new country, different to your own. If you feel like that’s you, don’t be afraid to get uncomfortable. You might just discover that there are other places where you feel right at home.
Anna Van Winden
Anna joined our staff team in January 2017 and is very passionate about working on the ship/ helping with health care in Papua New Guinea. She loves seeing people from all over the world come together to volunteer on the ship. Anna enjoys baking, good coffee and early mornings!