Roger and Diana Pomeroy spent 38 years as missionaries in Pakistan and returned to Wales for retirement in May 2006.
How are you adjusting back to life in the UK? This is the most frequently asked question we face. In fact this was the question the editor put to me in soliciting this article. How do I answer?
Let me be honest – because we did in fact make visits back in the years prior to our retirement, we are not out of our depth in ‘re-entry culture shock’. Our church in Cardiff has been very supportive and good friends have welcomed us and made us feel that we belong. It is also a joy to have our family within reach for the first time. But even so, there are adjustments to be made.
Memories of Pakistan
There is much that we greatly miss after nearly four decades in Pakistan. What are these things? The social chat and cup of ‘chai’ in the bazaar when out shopping; the majestic Himalayan foothills as we travelled to our holiday home in the hills of Murree; the awesome rock features of the north Sindh desert as I travelled out to visit the simple Hindu Marwari tribal people in the Choondko district.
I miss resting on a string bed under the shade of a mango tree on a hot summer’s day; squatting around a smoky wood fire on a winter’s night; listening to Christian songs sung by Kalu David to the accompaniment of his five stringed tamboora. I remember paratasand curried egg for breakfast.
We entered into the joys and sorrows of the simple folk we came to love, and we miss the delightful experience of seeing those who had never heard the name of Jesus coming to faith in him – and taking their place in the newly developing church.
I miss the smiling faces of village children running to meet us as we drove into their desert homestead and their cries of, ‘the Jesus people have come, the Jesus people have come’.
I miss the wonder of seeing God answer prayer when a situation seemed utterly impossible. In Wales we have social services, free prescriptions and insurance policies to shield us from difficulties and dangers, but perhaps these hinder us from casting ourselves on the Lord for our needs to be met.
In Pakistan there are many evils in society but there are also many fine qualities in the people among whom we lived. Once, when we were on holiday as a family in the mountains of the north, we suddenly faced a serious problem. Four of the five wheel studs on a front wheel of our Land Rover had sheered off. It was dusk and we were far from help.
A passing wagon driver saw our need and shouted that he would be back to help us after delivering his passengers. This unknown Muslim brought us to his village and arranged for our hospitality at a newly opened wayside teashop. He then went off to find the local welder and they set to work to make us new wheel studs.
At around 4.00am I was awakened and told that our vehicle was ready to be tested, and after breakfast we were able to resume our journey. Our kind friends would not think of taking any payment for their services of love.
Strange new society
Now we are back in our green and pleasant homeland with so many joys – daffodils in spring; sea beaches for special summer days; rich autumn colours and raw white winter frosts.
Something, though, has been lost. Things have changed here at home since the days of our youth when we set sail to face the unknown challenge of the mission field (yes, in 1968 we did leave by ship from Venice!)
The Lord’s Day has been made ‘common’. Relationships in our society are disfigured and distorted. The stable nuclear family of a once-married husband and wife with their own children is no longer the norm. In fact marriage itself is no longer regarded as holy matrimony.
Moral standards seem no longer to exist – at least, as long as other people’s lives are not affected by what we do. In the place of morals, ‘legislationalism’ is having a field day. To fill the moral vacuum and stem the tide of corruption, rules and regulations are offered as the answer to all our woes.
Honesty, faithfulness and integrity seem harder to find. The threat of terrorism hangs over us like the cloudy British weather. In the church, post-modernism has infiltrated many congregations.
Noise in worship is regarded as spiritual excellence but prayer to seek God’s face is little known and, more disturbingly, little desired. Many ‘progressive’ churches run their affairs like a commercial enterprise.
Yes we do need to be efficient, but something has been lost. Concern for those without Christ, and compassion for those in need around us, are scarce within the churches of our land.
We are facing these changes as we adjust back to life in twenty first century Britain. All is not lost, but evil does abound and our own attitudes are under threat. The ever lowering standards in our decadent society can easily have an adverse effect on me – on all of us.
We need, with godly fear and true obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ, to walk in the light of his presence and his Word in the midst of (dare I say it) our crooked and twisted generation. May God help us so to live.