We aren’t really home. I’ve mentioned that. But we do have a lot of people who have taken care of us so far on our home assignment journey.
- We always had a place to stay, whether an entire house or one bedroom or in little Bear’s case a laundry room or kitchen!
- We enjoyed meals in homes, meals in restaurants and meals in parks.
- We enjoyed fresh produce from backyard gardens and farmer’s markets.
- Little Bear received clothes and toys.
- I received much needed maternity clothes!
- We’ve made many new friends and caught up with old ones.
- People have given of precious time and finances.
- Church members have organized lunches, dinners, get togethers, lady’s nights, baby showers and more.
- Pastors have given up their Sunday sermon time.
We have received an outpouring of love from our community that spans from Florida to North Carolina to Michigan to Minnesota and to Washington State, with so many states in between. Thank you. We appreciate you. We appreciate your sacrifice. We appreciate your time. We appreciate your friendship!
This is such a funny concept. Not funny, haha, but funny weird, strange and abnormal. We are on home assignment and yet we are not home. We don’t even have a home for the 7 months we are in the United States. We have places to stay. We have other people’s homes. We have hospitality shown to us in many ways. But we are not home.
For me this is the hardest part about home assignment.
I am a wife, a mother, a homemaker and yet there is no home for me to make. Our space is not our own. We are living each and every day in close community with others. My main job is to take care of my family and yet I am displaced from my kitchen. My grocery shopping consists of picking up snacks for the road and occasional fruits. We have stayed in 14 homes with at least 11 more to go; sometimes staying no more than one night in each place. We are habitual guests.
Already, Little Bear slept in airports, playrooms, kitchens, closets and under tables. His little tent bed is moved from space to space but thankfully he adjusts quite well. At his young age he has traveled more miles, seen more of the United States and visited more countries than I had when I got married!
Each home treated us exceptionally. We are grateful for the hospitality extended to us, the chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones. We love the personal time spent in each home as it gives us the opportunity to connect more closely and go deeper.
Now imagine being a “couch surfer” as a family of three with one on the way for 7 months. Can you imagine it?
There are so many things we love about home assignment but the flip side is true as well. There are so many things we love about life in Kenya. Here are a few of the things we miss:
- Praising God in Kiswahili
- Cheap fresh fruits and veggies
- Our home
- Working on airplanes
- My sewing machine
- The crazy fabric market
- Prayer time with our team
- Sleeping in our own bed
- Celebrating weddings and new babies
- Nights alone as a family
- Game park camping
- Bear’s tools
- Lovely weather
- Our big land cruiser
- Ethiopian food
- Women’s Bible study
- Bear’s tools
- Riding the dirt bike
Home Assignment is refreshing in so many ways. Here are just a few of them:
- Meeting new family members. The count so far is 4 new nephews and nieces and lots of new cousins.
- Reconnecting with old friends.
- Sweet corn
- Being outside after dark
- Smooth roads
- Encouraging churches by sharing how God is working overseas
- Being encouraged by what churches are doing here in the USA
- Long summer days
- Extra time for studying God’s word
- Ice cream
- Walking on the beach
- Date nights
- Morning coffee with Mom
- Safe water from the tap
- No padlocks on our doors
- Parks: slides, swings, jungle gyms
Things that Never End
There is the song of course. I probably don’t have to write out the lyrics for you to picture the little lamb and red curly-haired woman singing…
“This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people… started singing it not knowing what it was AND they’ve been singing it F-O-R-ever just because…”
Go ahead just try not to hum a bar. Now good luck getting that out of your head!
Worse than that song running circles in your mind all day, are the goodbyes that are a never-ending cycle for us. A friend once told me that goodbyes just make room for more hellos. What a sweet way to look at it but… in my mind that doesn’t ring true.
Every goodbye I say tears a little piece of my heart. I have to work hard not to let the scar tissue grow tough, callous and indifferent. I have to work hard to allow new people in, to make new friends. My survival instincts tell me to shut people out, to close off and remain aloof.
Our life is one of constant transition. I’ve mentioned that before. Yet, even if we remain in the same country, the same city, our friends are always coming and going; whether for home assignment, another field of service or to their passport country for good. If you add to that our coming and going for home assignment and the flood of goodbyes to family and friends you can see how the cycle is one of continuous grieving.
This year several hard goodbyes are imminent. Some of our closest friends are leaving. I’m conflicted in my emotions. I’m excited for the next chapter in their lives while at the same time extremely sad to see them go. It’s hard to say goodbye to any friend but especially one whose passport country is literally on the other side of the world. However, the tears haven’t come. My grief is silent as I try to look on the positive side of things. And while I know that in time I will make new close friends for now I’m simply missing my old ones and possibly eating a lot of ice cream.
Falling snow really is beautiful. For years I’ve been intrigued by the icy flakes yet there has always been an element of doubt in my mind about their beauty. Being from Florida I do not thrive in the bitter cold and figured everything associated with freezing conditions must be terrible.
But I’ve been watching the drifting snowflakes through the window, warmly snuggled under a blanket while drinking hot tea since early this morning. From the comfort of the heated house it is easy to be mesmerized by the ever increasing snow piles.
This is not my first time to see snow. In South Carolina it snowed just after Christmas one year. We made snowmen in every relative’s yard. I went skiing once. Ended up on a black diamond my first time out. Not fun. I saw it in Alaska but it was summer and 60 degrees. Just recently I experienced it in Washington State. Exciting is not quite the word I would use to describe the feeling in the pit of my stomach as we slid down the driveway and drove 30 mph through mountain passes as all the semis put on their chains.
Snow and I have had our ups and downs.
I gave in to the cajoling of my husband, roused myself from the cozy spot on the couch and ventured outside into the wintry weather. The snow blower ate the newspaper and kicked out so we took turns shoveling the driveway. Then I mustered up some courage and bravely attacked first with a snowball to his chest. I lost the ensuing, short-lived battle. Max, the dog, chased snowballs that didn’t hit their mark but could never figure out what happened to them. I also plan to make snow angels, throw more snowballs, make a snowman, and possibly take a dip in the Jacuzzi.
With our departure back to Africa and temperatures well over 100 degrees fast approaching I feel the need to soak in the cold weather.
This might have been my most hard-core camping trip yet but I totally nailed it! I can use a squatty, bathe in a lake, canoe in gale force winds till my arms fall off, eat instant potato pancakes and sleep on rocky terrain in a tent as good as the rest of ‘em! Not to mention I stayed super calm in the face of chipmunk attacks.
And for the record I DID see a wolf print.
It was beautiful. All of it. One morning the lake was like glass. The next, it was windy and rough. God displayed beautiful sunrises, sunsets and a big, bright, blue moon. He showed us chipmunks, squirrels, fish, loons, gulls, a bald eagle and a moose momma with her calf!
He calmly affirmed that I am indeed capable of living in South Sudan when I rely on Him; even if we live in a tent, with no running water or electricity with snakes, scorpions and bugs of all kinds. He is my rock, my strength, my fortress.