“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
It has been almost 2 years since we moved back to the U.S.
Re-entry has not been easy.
There has been a lot about being here that I have enjoyed. Being closer to my college age kids and having a front row seat in their lives. Having special time with my extended family....and enjoying the feeling of accessibility to them....if we have a long weekend we can pick up and drive a while or fly briefly and be with family. It feels less detached as I felt when we lived abroad.
The ease of life here has been nice. Drinking from the tap, plugging things in without a thought to voltage or whether power is on or off, hot running water for bath, a sundry of cleaning supplies, convenient cooking, and fast internet to name a few.
Being able to find so many gently used things for free or inexpensively easily and in abundance has been awesome!
TARGET, malls, little specialty shops, and an abundant of thrift shops---I have really enjoyed. Sometimes I like just going to Target just to look without a long list of supplies that I have to get for the next 2+ years...it is nice knowing it will be there tomorrow!
Movies, in theaters and at home, plays, concerts, magazines , T.V and catching up on old T.V. series on Netflix and Hulu on the internet!
I have also enjoyed all the different churches we have visited--old and new, large and small, anglo, ethnic and multi-cultural--my favorite! I felt like I have feasted with all the lectures, seminars, retreats and classes I have attended.
There has also been a special bond that our family has developed as we are experiencing this adjustment together. We understand each other,share common memories, and exposure to new things. Our family has grown even closer through this season. For that I am thankful!
Now for the hard stuff..... I have read a lot on re-entry, and have sat at the feet of others that have gone before me through this... but I guess it is like going to the dentist...no amount of reading and preparing that you do takes away from the pain of going through the procedure. Being prepared did help some in terms of giving myself and my family the language and postmarks of what we are experiencing.
What makes this hard? I have shared in some earlier posts about the loneliness http://jana-joyinthejourney.blogspot.com/2014/01/loneliness.html
and making home a choice http://jana-joyinthejourney.blogspot.com/2013/10/home-is-choice.html?
It is hard to fully express what makes this hard...a few things are;
I have changed in the last 20 years as I have lived abroad.
The U.S. has changed in the last 20 years.
Struggling to be understood.
Struggling to understand or process this new place.
Resisting putting all my memories and real experiences in a box or picture album on a shelf.
Looking for where my unique experience and skills can be used.
An overwhelming 'home' sickness that is at times paralyzing.
Sometimes I feel like I have so much inside of things I have seen
and experienced of God's handiwork and there seems no outlet to share and I feel like I may erupt..... learning how to ponder these things in my heart.....
Another thing hard about this season is that it is not just me.
It is like adjusting to jet lag.
When you are traveling alone jet lag is hard but you can adjust in a few days but when you are traveling with your family who is adjusting to jet leg in different ways
jet lag drags on longer for Mom!
It would be nice if like flying you could adjust your breathing mask before helping others but this is not possible when you are a parent or spouse.
You can not tell your kids "just wait till mom gets all adjusted and then I will be there for you..."
But as I have helped my children thrive it has helped me as well and we have processed many things together...
It has not always been pretty...sometimes it is super hard to see your child you love so much hurting...and everything they are expressing is so similar to how you feel and you so wish they were not having to go through this and you know that is not their choice but a calling you have on your life. It is in times like this that I have to trust that God has this and just as he has walked with us in our past He is walking with us now!
Early on in our return an older missionary shared with us not to lose our missionary calling. We have held on to this encouragement and God has showed us more.....I wrote more on this in an earlier post http://jana-joyinthejourney.blogspot.com/2013/10/i-have-heard-levitical-call.html.
I think one thing that has helped us and hurt us is that we are somewhere new.
Most of things you read about re-entry talk about going back to a familiar place--some where that has been a place of significance either before you went abroad or some where you visited a lot during your time away....a place where you have family and friends . This can be helpful as you have a base of support but this can also be hard as you may feel that you must fit back into a place where both you and those around you have changed....the puzzle has changed and you, one piece of the puzzle has been re-cut. Sometimes I wish that our family had moved to a familiar place but both of our parents have moved during our time away and even our support bases had also gone through some significant shifts. There are familiar individuals and shadows of old places but no real familiar place for our family.
We kind of had a clue that this would be the case for us and since our oldest daughter was going to school in Wheaton, Illinois; and there was a good soft landing for missionaries( Missionary Furlough Homes) we decided that it might be a good start for us.
After spending the majority of our ministry serving the Diaspora of East Africa we feel a lot of affiliation with them and as we transition from Wheaton into Chicago last fall this was one of the draws. " I am all of the places that I have left my heart" Marina Sofia ---I so relate to this statement and I am determined to be who God has molded me to be and serve others from this place. Cities have been a part of the common denominator for us in all the places we have lived and Chicago has not disappointed. So instead of re-entry being adjusting back into something known we have seen "Re-entry is the opportunity to relaunch yourself into your next great thing" Cate Brubaker,PhD
Relaunch.....I like the sound of that word better than trying to forget my experiences in order to fit the norm..... Next great thing.....I have joined God in some awesome stuff in Africa and there a temptation to think.....
was that the climax of my live....
No, I am still serving the same God and He is taking us to the next great thing and I can not wait!