This week we will be on American soil for the first time in 3 years. We started our journey to South Africa on June 11, 2011 and landed here on June 13. Now we’ll be heading back for a visit, leaving June 13, 2014 and arriving in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 14 after many, many hours of travel. We are all excited to see our family and friends, to eat at Wendy’s and Pizza Ranch, to drive down familiar roads and avenues, and catch up with people who were, and still are, near and dear to us.
However, along with the excitement is also a bit of anxiety. The members of our family have changed over the last three years. We feel that a lot of these changes are for the better, but what if our old friends don’t like the “new” us? Tyson and Jori are not the same children they were when we left. They are older, have stronger personalities, have been exposed to different people and cultures than our family and friends in the states. We love the bits and pieces that they have taken from people we've met and places we've been and have made their own. Their accents, their likes and dislikes, their dance moves; the way they think, the things that are important to them; these things that make them unique, but which may seem foreign to those who have not traveled along with them over these last few years. Will their old friends find them strange and shy away, or will they be embraced for who they are?
Darin and I have also changed. I like to think we've matured and grown up a bit and I’m guessing our friends and family in the states have changed and grown as well, but will we have all changed too much to remain close, or will the differences draw us together in a new way? I do not think the same as I did before we moved here. I have been through some dark moments, some of which I've shared through email or blog posts, but a lot that I've either kept hidden away or only shared with friends on this side of the ocean, where I could share face to face.
Are we going to be annoyed by the commercialism and consumerism that sums up so much of life in the Western world, or will we be sucked right back in? Will we be annoying to those we come into contact with, when we talk about things that are dear to us, but unfamiliar to them? I am sure there will be a bit of reverse culture shock going on, probably a few tears shed over the changes in relationships that have occurred, some tough moments when our kids say that they want to stay in the states, and a lot of travel fatigue from driving this way and that to see friends and family who are scattered over the country. However, I know that there are also going to be a lot of good times, the special moments that we will gather up and carry back with us to Africa, moments that we will treasure when we are once again far away from those we love.
God has been so good to us and to doubt that his goodness and grace will continue with us as we travel is foolish, yet it is hard to keep from thinking of the hard moments, the tears and the goodbyes, the pain of separation.