…And your guide to avoiding them.
“How does it feel to be home?” Well, I actually don’t know what “home” means. The place I’ve lived longest? The place I live now? The country of my birth? Do I spin a wheel to select one of my fifteen houses as home? Also, “How do you feel to be somewhere” is an extremely ambiguous question. You try answering how it feels to be home. Specific questions are much easier to answer.
“Say something in Spanish (Mandarin, Portuguese, French, whatever) for me.” This request is a cue for my brain to go completely blank, in all the languages I know. Again, being specific helps. Try, “How do you say, ‘I have a large wart on my nose’ in Spanish?” That I can answer.
“I know just how you feel. I spent three months in another country and left my heart there.” Hahahahahaha, no. No you don’t. You were just in the first days of the honeymoon stage, honey. You don’t have any idea. Why don’t you simply express your admiration for the other country without pretending you know exactly what the missionary feels like.
“So, are you adjusted yet?” Tell me, what exactly is this “adjusted” you speak of? Am I used to having green grass and pure white walls everywhere I look? Is my heart done missing the country I left? Am I no longer overwhelmed by large crowds of Americans doing ‘Merican things? Explain. You could try saying something like, “How is the job search going?” or “Are you enjoying your new house?”
Any degrading comment about the country they’ve come from- bland food, annoying “natives”, dumb culture, whatever. You know how it is when someone criticizes your family? They might annoy you to no end, but let any outsider say a bad word against them, and your hackles will rise and your teeth will bare. It’s sort of the same feeling when you criticize their chosen country. Besides, many of those remarks are born out of ignorance, so take Proverbs to heart and look wise by keeping your mouth shut.
Scared to talk to returning missionaries yet? 🙂 Don’t be. If you say the wrong thing, don’t worry, they’ve probably heard it a dozen times before, and they won’t despise you for it.