Recently, a commenter on my blog asked if I had any tips for living far from home/family. Hmmm. I guess I can offer some, though I am certainly not a perfect role model. Here they are, in random order. (Some of this may apply to culture shock rather than living far from family.)
1. Find people who are like-minded where you live and begin to consider them 'family.' (Spend holidays with them, drive them to the hospital when they are sick, do everything for them and with them that you would for your real family.)
2. Search for the positives (this is hard at times). Desire to see how God has blessed you in this far-from-home place.
3. Vonage. We have a US phone line. I'll never forget the first time we plugged it in, and I heard a real US dial tone. It does help.
4. Talk to your kids about the relatives far away.
5. Realize the grass is not greener. (It's so easy to think if I just lived "there," all of this would be better. It's not true. Problems, heartache, stress are all "there," too.)
6. Remember God is here. This is perhaps the most important message I have sensed from God in my years in this country.
7. Find friends who are godly and who sharpen, understand, and encourage you.
8. Enjoy the occasional perk from home (like a care package with m-and-m's), but don't pine for those things all the time. It will only frustrate you.
9. Don't expect "here" to be like "there," but appreciate those little ways that God gives you reminders of home.
10. Go home when you can. It's worth the jetlag and the money.
11. Don't be jealous of those who do have family close by for all the big events (again, this can be hard). Just realize that is not what God has for you right now, and look forward to the time you will get to see them.
12. Allow yourself/spouse/kids to have an occasional day to just greatly dislike where they are. Listen, encourage, then help them move on. His mercies are new every morning.
13. Find a good church and be involved. We have two churches to choose from in our city of millions. When we came here, it wasn't about our church being a perfect fit for us, it was about finding family.
14. Make the most of your time with your family when you visit them or they visit you. I may drive my mama crazy in the summers at her house, but she never makes me feel like a burden. I always tell my family I love them, and I've determined not to waste the time I have with them with anything petty.
15. Realize you may always cry at the airport. I've said goodbye now for 14 years, and I've never not cried.