The scent met us at the door. Mildew. Africa dirt. The faint wisps of Omo soap that remained on the dusty linens. The children’s ecstatic squeals reverberated around me. We were home. Again. We had much to accomplish in the space of just a few hours. We all uncovered furniture and beds and I scratched together some semblance of dinner before we would all succumb to the pressing of jet lag. My quickly overwhelmed brain was pulled into submission by the rhythm of my children’s joy. How very often they teach me.
“Be joyful always…”
We were thrilled to walk into our own space.
We were overwhelmed by the work to just find a place to sleep.
The children rejoiced to walk into their rooms and see their toys and books and treasures.
The children moaned over the layers of dirt coating every surface.
We celebrated sleeping in our very own beds.
We bemoaned the biting bugs that had claimed those beds in our absence.
The night sounds soothed.
The night sounds kept us awake.
The jet lag forced us into deep heavy sleep.
The jet lag woke us up after only a few hours.
The early mornings with our whole family making breakfast in the dark.
The long afternoons with drooping eye lids and heavy exhaustion.
The days are full of familiar.
The days are full of different.
Roads we know. Rutted roads that hurt to travel over.
Social patterns we understand. Slow, gradual, relational avenues of task accomplishment.
Our brains rest from the drain of making decisions among a million choices.
Our brains labor from the strain of making-do amid the absence of choice at all.
Water pours from the sky.
Water stops flowing into the house.
The dogs are thriving, happy to have us all back.
The dogs are thin from their weeks without us.
Three large rooms cleaned top to bottom. Such satisfactory accomplishment!
Three large rooms wait to be cleaned top to bottom. Such dreaded endeavor.
My kitchen with my things!
My kitchen with my responsibility.
A ministry filled with purpose and never lacking for the next thing to do.
A ministry that demands and stretches us to our limits.
Our favorite restaurants.
Our only restaurants.
Our peaceful veranda with a gorgeous view.
Mosquito bites from sitting long into the evening.
The breath-taking view of green foliage and the grandeur of a tropical rain storm.
The pervasive mildew that invades our home and drying laundry.
Feeling safe on our compound.
Feeling undone by the thief in the yard next door.
What is it like to be back?
Wonderful. (And difficult.)
Delightful. (And difficult.)
So happy. (And difficult.)
Peaceful. (And difficult.)
Right where we are supposed to be.
Eyes wide open.
To all of it.
“…give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5: 16-18