Monday, August 1, 2016

Just Breathing

Ah, it is so wonderful to break out of the hectic business of life and press the pause button.  
Mom was right - I'm wired to work, and if there's a project to do I'm first to tackle the job.  Business almost becomes a coping mechanism when I'm missing Africa extra badly. 
Though I was really sick during my last couple of weeks in South Africa, I came back thinking I was ready to dive back into summer business.  By the time I was in the States a week and a half, I quickly realized just how weak and burned out I really was. 
For a gal who usually can't nap at all, I found myself exhausted by midmorning and easily slept for hours.  "You need to get away," Mom said.  "It's the only way you'll rest."  
So after one last bang of business while I prepared to give a presentation about my trip in youth group, I took off for my cousins home in the mountains of Virginia.  What a joy that family is!  
I love them like second parents and another set of siblings, and I have a feeling that the feeling is mutual.  Each one of my cousins have grown noticeably since I saw them last Christmas, and best of all, cousin number 20 has made his grand entrance.  
Little Grayson is a doll, and the three days I spent with the family were full of card games, berry picking, dessert cooking, hiking through mountains, and all kinds of wonderful. 
Grayson wasn't too fond of a photoshoot during his busy morning, but the pictures I captured of him make me swoon every time.  Being around Grayson lessened the baby-ache I've been experiencing since leaving SA, big it is still there.  
Mom spent one night with me in the mountains before returning home, and I found myself deep in thought about my little Huncie the morning she was supposed to leave.
"Mom," I mused, "what do you think it would have been like if I had moved to Africa for my senior year to raise Huncie?  Or what if I could have adopted or long-term fostered her?"  Images of the little one filled my mind and made me long for her to be by my side.  What if, just what if, I wondered, what if I was her Momma, and she was mine?  Though I longed for it, I knew the practicalities and logistics of the idea made it impossible, or at least extremely impractical.  
"Well," Mom said, answering my question, "If you had moved there to raise her, you probably wouldn't have been able to get much, if any school done.  You wouldn't be able to finish your senior year, and you'd become a high school drop-out."
I started giggling and Mom joined in.  She knows my heart for that little one, and as my momma, she knows when to use humor to get a serious point across.  The fact is, I cannot adopt Huncie, and it's not God's plan for me to move to SA right now.  I believe that with all my heart.  
Yet, one can dream, and right now those dreams are full of a beautiful, tiny little girl with huge brown eyes and a smile that has my heart.  

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Handling Home

            People ask how I’m handling being home, and the truth is, I’m doing well.  Really well. 
Though I have my hard moments, I feel like I am embracing this post-Africa season of life, enjoying my family and jumping back into my place here.  
I watch my life mission solidify piece by piece and my heart soars with the dreams I hold close. 
I smile, look into the face of the joys and challenges the coming months and years hold, and prepare to stand firm.  The challenges are there.  They crash in every so often and surprise me.  
Though I handle it well, being thrown from third-world to first-world in a day, or like in SA, multiple times day, are sometimes hard to deal with.  Even last night, as a thunderstorm storm blew in and crashed around us, I fought with myself and the struggle of it all.  
The violence of the storm mirrored the battle I was facing, but just as all storms do, it raged for a time and then blew on out.  I ploughed through the hurt of not having the African little ones I love near.  
I must sit with fact that I am here, and they are there.  That is the hurt, that is the struggle, and though I know God is their Daddy, and I must give them up to Him.  
God is such a good Father, and I know it’s only His grace that has allowed me to transition well into big-and-busy American life.  The struggle is there, but so is He.  And He outweighs the pain with His grace and love every time, and leaves me so thankful for His Africa and the journey He allowed me to walk through there.   

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Welcomed Home

            Home I am, and find myself doing very well.  It’s such a blessing that the afternoon and evening went decently smoothly and I didn’t collapse into I-cant-handle-America convulsions, 
as I just may have feared I might.  

The plane’s wheel hit the runway with a jolt and thrust me back into a life that was familiar and yet felt a million years away at the same time.  Even so, I smiled in genuine excitement, and my heart raced as I it hit me for the 27th time that I was so close to seeing my people and squeezing them tight.

  I scurried from the terminal I had entered five weeks and three days before at the start of my adventure, and within minutes was running through the gate into my family’s arms.  And then there I was, there we were, as it nothing had ever changed and I hadn’t been away for a month and a half.  We hugged each other tight and laughed at the fact that it was all so weird that I was actually home, that after all the waiting and traveling I was really back.  
We grabbed my bags and took off for subs and McFlurries before traveling the last leg 
of the journey home to a beautifully decorated house that celebrated that I was back with birthday banners, balloons, ribbons, and drawings.  Made me a little teary as I realized for the 392nd time just how much these people love me, and just how much I love them back. 

The time change and jet lag are hitting hard, but coffee and quite early mornings have been ordained by Jesus and my Momma, and take them I will.  It’s been quite a journey, and it’s wonderful and heart wrenching to be back.   The trip processing is going to run into 
full swing within the next couple hours.  
FYI, if you have an a free afternoon and have the strange desire to drink coffee, listen to a million stories, and go through a billion photos, let me know.  I have just the opportunity for you J. Until then, much love to you all.   

Instagram saw it first, but I truly have missed ice cream and little minion brothers :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Kissing South Africa Goodbye

excerpt from my journal on July 5th, 2016 – 5:46 Johannesburg, SA time

            So funny to think that I’m still in South Africa.  
Even now my grand adventure seems like a distant dream to me, and the reality of it leaves me teary.  Yes, here I sit in the Johannesburg South African airport, yet my heart hurts as I begin to grieve Africa already.  
This is weird to me.  
I’ve known and thought I had accepted and understood the fact that I would be leaving.  I wasn’t really eager to go, but I looked forward to seeing everyone back home.  The many videos, pictures, and trips to the lake made me long for them and for summer.  I was ready to go home,
 ready throw myself into fun, summery things.  
But now I find that my heart is breaking with loss I hadn’t anticipated.  
I miss everyone desperately.  
I don’t want to give them up yet… I don’t want to give me up.  Leaving Africa, I’m realizing, means leaving part of me.  Life wasn’t all bliss and beauty here.  Days were hard and long, frustrated me, and made me want to curl up and sleep to escape the exhaustion of the struggle I was beginning to realize.
  Yet this was my life, my beautiful African life.  The life where I became a little missionary, where I became a stand-in momma to many precious children. 
 I was ready to get away from the struggle, but right now 
I’m missing home, missing Africa.  I want to be back.  
While at the airport, I noticed the African sun setting, and realized it would be the last one I’ll see for a while.  The beauty of it was stunning, as it always is, and out came the camera for a one last photo.  The phone clicked as the photo was captured, and I shoved it into my pocket.  
My smile faded then, and I sat down in the airport waiting room, realizing that my eyes were heavy and my heart was sad.  Yes, I am leaving.  I am leaving Africa, and right now, it just hurts

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