It is strange being home. On the drive from the Detroit airport to our home further south in Michigan we soaked in the colors and the cold, the landscape, the sounds and the generally feeling of being back in our own culture. We stopped by Taco Bell on the way home, per my request and I savored every bite! 🙂 When we walked into our house (living with Beth’s parents) Beth & I both felt so weird. It was weird because some things were the same and some things were different than we left, but everything was SO VERY DIFFERENT from Papua New Guinea.
One of the things we felt right after getting into the house was that everything was so nice & clean. The walls were so bright and smooth, glass windows, soft carpet on the living room floor and amazing leather couches made us feel like the home we had known before was more like a palace than just a regular American house. Its amazing how the things in our surroundings overseas had become normal to us, no matter how rough they were but coming back to the US again the drastic differences were very apparent to us! After living in a village for the last few months, you can imagine that it has had an affect on our outlook on things.
The day after we arrived Beth’s two sisters and their significant others came home, and then the next day, Beth’s little brother came home from Bible school for Easter weekend. Abby (Beth’s sister) & her fiance Nathan are both living down at the missionary training center: Abby is on staff and Nathan is finishing the Linguistics program. Chrissy (Beth’s sister) & her husband Don are saving up to begin missionary training this fall. Davy (Beth’s brother), is attending New Tribes Bible Institute in Jackson, MI. We have had a great time with them and couldn’t have asked for a better first week home from the field. It was very relaxing and fun to see them all, hear about their recent activities and be able to share some of our stories from PNG with them. Also, Nathan proposed to Abby over the weekend so we all got to be together to enjoy the excitement of the newly engaged couple! It was very special and we are so happy for them.
On Thursday, Beth had her first prenatal check up and was able to get an ultrasound. First, both Beth & the baby are doing excellent! Secondly, we were so happy to find out that we are expecting a baby girl!! We have both been pretty emotional over this great news and since then I have been continually thanking the Lord for the gift of a daughter. We really could not be more excited!
Yesterday we went to our home church and were overwhelmed by how nice everyone was to us and how happy they were to see us. It really feels good because we have had times of feeling very isolated from everyone living in a village. We love and have missed our home church family a lot, so it really meant a lot to us seeing so many people. We look forward to all the time we can spend with these people over the next months.
How do we feel and how are we doing being home?
Tom: I feel good. I’m pretty much over jet lag. We were both kind of emotional the first night back. I do feel a little weird socially, too. I don’t know why. It almost feels like in coming home we have to restart learning a new culture again. I’ve read that when missionaries come off of the field for the first time, this happens, because they now find themselves as people of two cultures instead of one. I don’t know if this is entirely true of us, but it might help explain my feelings of social weirdness. Maybe it will go away… 🙂 Overall, I am very happy to be home and happy to finally be able to make preparations for our new baby girl coming in just seven short weeks!
Beth: It is wonderful to be back and I am reveling in the physical relief I am finally feeling from being out of extreme heat and humidity as a pregnant woman! I finally smell good and am not sweating all the time. I feel the most like a woman than I have in 8 months and it is amazing how easy it is to make it through a day here as a posed to what it was like in the village. 🙂 Thank you Lord!
Tom and I are trying to be sensitive to the fact that re-entry into American culture could be difficult for us at times. We have done some reading about “reverse culture shock” and are trying to being intentional to communicate with one another about how we are feeling as we adjust back into life in America. So far I think the Lord has helped us adjust well and we are thankful.
As much as we want to be fully here and soak up all the “perks” of America, our hearts and minds are so full of PNG. In every way you can think of, the things that have happened to us and the things the Lord has taught us over the last 8 months are always on our minds and can’t help but effect the way we look at everything. In a very real way, PNG is our home now. This is both a strange and wonderful feeling and we thank the Lord for bonding our hearts to the place and people he has called us minister too.
(Oh, and p.s. Do not doubt for a second our love for America, we do LOVE America-this place is incredible, more than we ever realized before! :D)