Hey all, sorry for the delay in writing. I haven’t been THAT busy, but just unsure of what to write about and if it would even amount to enough to put up. But, I figured that it would probably be wise to keep on top of this at least a little bit before my life turns upside down when I start medical school.
So far, my transition to living at home has gone pretty well. I have had ups and downs, but I am still thankful to be home and to have plenty of people around me supporting me as I process this experience and what is next. I am overwhelmingly blessed by such awesome people surrounding me, who have encouraged me and helped me spiritually, and through words and a helping hand/voice.
Since I’ve been home, I have really enjoyed being able to tell my story in different contexts. I’ve found perspective change in being physically apart from my friends and colleagues in Gambia. Thank you to everyone who has been patient enough to listen to me and endure my processing of my experience. I am more aware of and have more of a passion for helping other returning missionaries to process their time when they come home, and how to support them before, during, and after their time of service overseas.
Also have had the honor of going to the wedding of a friend and one of my cousin (two days ago). For my cousin’s wedding, this afforded me the opportunity to clear away the cobwebs on my violin and play with my mom and brother for the wedding prelude. The wedding also meant that I got to see a lot of family from all over (TX, MI, and the Netherlands). So much fun surrounding a wonderful celebration!
As you might imagine, coming home after such a long time away isn’t an easy process. The things that have been hard to process have been (in chronological order): the size and speed of things here, missing my friends in Gambia, boredom, and job search.
The first week or so, I was pretty overwhelmed going to stores that had so many options. In Gambia, there were markets that you would buy most things at, but nothing was anywhere near the size of stores here. It was stressful to go to get anything from any store; I made it my goal to get in and out as fast as possible and not focus on the huge variety of items to purchase.
Then, I started to think about my friends in Gambia, both in Sibanor and in other locations. I began to miss their company and presence in my life. I had to say real goodbyes to them, not knowing when I would see them again, after having building strong relationships with them and having many shared joys and struggles. I thought about what they might be doing on any given day without me, and thinking about their heat and having covetous thoughts. Case in point, one of the days last week when it snowed, my friend Margit had sent me a message in which she expressed her surprise that it was snowing and saying that she had been thinking that she wished she could fit into the refrigerator in Blue House. About the same time, Cheryl sent me a message saying that it was regularly getting up to 113°F in Chamen! All the while I have been in the frozen tundra called SD.
I’ve started to get bored as I’ve been hanging out at home. I’ve kept busy exercising and helping Mom out around the house and with shopping and such, but otherwise unable to explain what I had spent my day on to anyone who asked.
Initially when I came home, I thought I would get a job back with my former employer. I knew I would be paying my student loans until I start medical school. This has turned out to be a non-option. This caused me a significant amount of stress in trying to figure out how to proceed with the situation presented me. Though disappointing at first, I have come to see that God had a plan through the struggle. I have been asking around for babysitting jobs and they have been coming in. I have a couple possible part-time jobs, so I am excited to see this all come together. I am by no means “rolling in the dough” but I am getting by, and am learning the comfort of resting in my Heavenly Father’s plan for this time. I am really learning the meaning of Paul’s words to the Philippians, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (4:11-13).