Twenty four days. Three full days of travel. Three nights in the Capital City to recover from/prepare for International flights. Three nights on the beach spending quality family time together in the wake of serious grieving. That left us just fifteen days in our former home in the center of a large island that has been our home for nine years.
Many have been praying and asking “How did your trip go?” It’s a tough question to answer.
Good. It was good. Good to hug friends we haven’t seen in over nine months. Good to hold babies who have been born since we left. Good to eat dinner at friends’ houses, to sit on the floor and enjoy warm, sweet tea and rice together. Good to worship at our church, praising God together in our second language. Good to meet with our team again and catch up on the ministry there.
Fun. Yes, we had fun! We worked on a bucket list of places to visit, things to do in our time back. We ate at our favorite restaurant, and were honored to receive the prized recipe for our favorite food there (to bring back to America so we could open up a roadside stand selling nasi bakar, if we were so inclined!). The boys played at friends’ houses, at the local pool, and even visited our local waterpark! I grocery shopped at my favorite places, and baked muffins and brownies with my friends. We ended our time in Asia Pacific with a trip to Bali– something we’d promised the boys we’d do “someday.” Very fun!
Rewarding. So richly rewarding. We savored the chance to host our entire congregation for Tuesday night Bible study at the house where we were staying. We ate together, sang together, opened the Word together. And God gave us a precious treat– Shad was able to share his testimony and his heart with our entire church! He spoke clearly and without issue in the national language, something that has been markedly difficult over the past year and a half in light of his constant seizure activity. What a special moment for us, and a specific answer to Shad’s prayers! We also had the rewarding experience of watching our Pastor baptize Braden in the local spring. Again, a special memory that we will cherish for years to come!
Hard. Oh, so very hard! To walk where you have walked a hundred times, and to try to wrap your mind around the fact that this may be the last time you walk there. To rub shoulders with friends you have come accustomed to seeing and working with every day, only to realize with sadness that you may never see them, laugh with them, visit with them again. To digest the fact that we will leave and life will go on without us. That although things may be different when we’re gone, they will still go on. Letting go is hard.
And just like that, we’re back. After an uneventful 36 hour trip, we landed in Springfield, Missouri around 11:00pm last Wednesday. According to the internet, we still have six days before we should “officially” be over jetlag. We are sleeping through the night already, and our headaches, tummy aches, and dizziness have subsided. Honestly? The fact that we are here, back in Missouri, sitting in our home, typing up an update as we sip coffee– it all seems kind of anti-climactic. I mean, we just left our world. Our home. Our lives haves just changed. Forever (at least it seems that way right now!). We are grieving. Something as simple as opening the gallery in my phone or smelling local coffee beans in my open suitcase brings me to tears.
As part of our “re-entry” into life and ministry in the US, I am working through a debrief devotional called “Returning Well.” I found this quote in the book particularly fitting: “Changes in your role identity (after working cross-culturally) can be like becoming a piano virtuoso and then moving back to a place where there are no pianos.” So true to how we feel right now! All the years of language learning, cultural adaptation, adjusting to life overseas… all this seems somehow useless now, and a big chunk of how we defined ourselves and our life and our identity is missing. Not to mention all the time, emotion, effort, tears, and life we poured in to relationships, only to find ourselves now living a world apart.
We share our hearts not to plead for your sympathy, but to ask you to pray for us! Pray that we would trust God in this grieving process, and that we would allow Him to move our hearts into the new ministry He has for us here. We will be OK. The grieving, the letting go, the tears– none of it is wasted at the hands of our Savior. He cares for us. He longs to turn our brokenness and pain into beauty.
Thank you for standing with us. Thank you for your continued support in our transition! Thank you for faithfully praying for us and for caring for us so deeply!! We are blessed by you, and we praise God for the role you have in our lives!!
So, let me give you the short answer to some questions you may be asking…
“How was your trip?” Good, Fun, Rewarding, and Hard.
“How are you doing?” We are good. Hurting, but good. Grieving, but good. Rejoicing in the truth that God’s got this and He’s got us in the palm of His hand…
P.S. Shad’s medical update:
Praise the Lord that Shad did really well on the trip! He did have some auras and partial seizures, but no grand mals, and he was able to communicate quite well! He went in for a PET scan last Friday to help the doctor get another look at how his brain is currently functioning. We go back in for follow up on all his testing and to hear the doctor’s plan for treatment on April 17th (the day after Easter). Thank you so much for your prayers!! We’ll keep you posted…