Saturday, January 31, 2015

What Do You Miss Most?

That's a common question we hear from folks as we travel and reconnect.  "What do you miss most?"  And, while we know they're often thinking that we will respond with the name of a restaurant or activity, that's not the way we want to respond.  The bottom line is, what we miss most is the people that we love.  When we chose to follow God's leading to Africa, it had absolutely nothing to do with the desire to leave people or our life here behind.  We considered it a great loss and, even now, grieve over the things we miss with the people we love.

That is why we are so thankful to have these months to make special memories with family and friends.  And already, we're off to a great start.  So here are a few pics of "what we miss most"...

Time with grandparents, just learning from them and enjoying the people that they are.
 Riding Pap's 4 wheeler is this boy's idea of a great afternoon!

Births and birthday parties.  This little guy, our youngest nephew wasn't even born when we left.  We missed out on his newborn stage, his toddler years, and the like.  We're thankful we got to be a part of his 3rd birthday party, though.

We don't just miss attending the parties of others, but we miss having grandparents at ours.  We were glad to have Pa join us for Lily's birthday dinner a couple of weeks ago!

Christmas with family.  Need I say more?

 Cousin time.  There's nothing like garage Nerf wars after Christmas dinner, right?

 Special traditions like the New Year's Eve Party we always looked forward to at the house of some special friends.

You know, the Lord is gracious.  For every thing we've missed, his grace has been more than sufficient.  He has carried us (and those we love) through every holiday and special day that we've spent apart, by his strength.  And, we can testify that He has also given us some pretty unique and special memories of different ways of celebrating, as well as some great friendships on the other side of the Atlantic.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pinch me...

Soon I'm going to quit writing all of these posts about our transition to the States.  But before I do, can I just say that there are a few things that continue to make me giddy about life on this side of the pond?  Just a few of them are...

  • The smells.  Everything smells so good.  The freshly laundered clothes, the fancy hand soaps and air fresheners, the yummy scents coming from coffee shops and bakeries, and just the clean sidewalks all around.   We are loving it.
  • The ease.  Dishwashers, paper plates, consistent electricity and water, and climate control.  Never gets old!
  • Meal preparation, oh my! Canned veggies, pre-washed salads, ready-made dough, mixes, pre-seasoned sausage, and the like.  And, if the gazillion 20 minute meal options aren't enough, you can pick up a phone and someone will bring you a pizza OR you can climb in your car, drive 5 minutes, and run through a drive-thru.  It's almost too good to be true.
  • Netflix!  
  • Clearance Racks
  • The open road, complete with $2 a gallon gas, 99 cent slushies, 70 mile an hour highways complete with signed exits, and almost non-existent horns.  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why Not?

"It's not wrong, it's just different."  

That's been our motto for the last 3 years.  Every time we've been faced with a new food, new place, new cultural oddity, or the like, we have had to remind one another that just because something is isn't necessarily bad.

Obviously, there are some things that our family has been exposed to, which we teach our children are wrong.  Strapping a bomb to yourself and entering a place of worship will never be okay.  Abandoning your wife because she can't have children, we take issue with that too.  Having more than one wife...we're gonna train our children that one's a no-no.  However, eating grasshoppers and rats, not revealing your baby's name until he is six weeks old, or using your car horn with the same frequency as your brake lights isn't's just different.

We've realized, returning to this side of the globe, that we're the ones who might seem a bit "different." Our children aren't used to many of the conventions of life in these United States.  They don't know all of the rules.  That might be why I would walk into the kitchen and find the youngest two eating cottage cheese at 7:15 in the morning.  After all, it's a novelty to them, why can't it be a breakfast food?  Why shouldn't my teenager order a bacon cheeseburger when she's out with friends for breakfast?  Let them have their waffles, she can have those anytime in Africa.  And, I hope that my friend can overlook the fact that my high schooler picked a turkey sandwich for her sleepover breakfast, instead of cereal.

We also find ourselves doing some odd cultural things.  Like, when we were in the middle of a game at a New Year's Eve party and in an effort to encourage someone, I heard myself call out "Hup, Hup" and as I waited for those around my to answer, "Hooray!" I came to the realization that isn't a normal party chant here like it is in Ghana.  We also find ourselves getting excited about "finds" at the grocery store until we come to our senses and remember that jars of spaghetti sauce and cans of cream of chicken soup are readily available here.  We aren't sure what to say when asking for guidance to the restroom facilities...restroom? bathroom? toilet? WC?, which one is it we're supposed to use here?  There are still those moments when we see someone wearing University of Kentucky gear and want to inquire,  "Hey, are you from the States?"  Until we remember that we are IN the States.

All in all, we're adjusting well.  We've all had our moments of "too many choices induced paralysis" as well as "how do you live at this insane pace panic attacks," but all in all, we've had a really smooth and positive re-entry experience.