I have to admit that I feel in recent years, miraculously, I haven't experienced a great deal of culture shock. It's strange, because we went from having a home in Ithaca, NY in July of 2011 to being 'homeless' a month later in August. We traveled from NY to CT to IL to WI to MN to ND, raising funds to serve in Ecuador, all the while having no home. Kaia was born in Elgin, IL in February 2012, while we were staying in an apartment in our missions headquarters. We drove back east eventually and looped back to MN, flying from Minneapolis to San José, Costa Rica in April of 2012.
We spent 2 weeks in Seattle 4 months later in August 2012 with my parents, between semesters at the language school in Coast Rica. After 'graduating' from language school, we flew straight from Costa Rica to Ecuador. This past April our son, Espen, was born here. We've been living in Ecuador since December 2012, and have only returned to the US once for 10 days to be with family in Wisconsin this past July.
That's a lot of change over the course of three years. Lots of different cultural experiences, different places to call 'home' (or not call home) and yet I've not experienced a ton of culture shock-- from what I can recognize, anyway.
On Wednesday of this week-- tomorrow -- we will get on a plane that will take us back to the US for three months. That's a long time. In some ways it sounds really long, and in other ways it's a drop in the bucket. But once again, we'll be 'homeless.' We'll be doing lots of traveling. And for Kaia especially, it will be a big cultural adjustment.
What I've been building up to is that I'm beginning to feel it. I really should say that I am feeling it. To be completely honest, I'm feeling the pressure of what's to come and I have so many different feelings, thoughts, pressures, and emotions running around inside of me.
Don't get me wrong-- I'm incredibly excited to see friends and family members that we haven't seen in years. I'm excited to eat a good steak, have a great cup of coffee, and visit some of those old places we used to love going to when we lived in these different towns. But we're not the same people that left the US in 2012. We're not 'coming back' to a 'home.' We're passing through. We're traveling between many, many locations. And the culture we left is not our 'norm' anymore. We call Ecuador home.
So it's this crazy blending of feelings. Excitement to see people and be with those we love. Feeling the weight of knowing that our kids will be out of their element and normal routine and may have great difficulty sleeping and adjusting to the pace of life into which they're about to be thrust. Sadness knowing there simply won't be enough time to spend with everyone and at times we won't walk away feeling 'satisfied' by how much time we were able to visit and connect. Happiness about getting to attend the churches we've gone to over the years. Stress over knowing the amount of coordinating and planning that still has to be done to make sure we can see all the people and go to all of the places we would like to. Joy knowing that God will be with us. Fear knowing that we might get sick, tired, and/or exhausted from our intense traveling schedule.
Maybe you get a glimpse-- maybe not. I guess my desire is simply to be real and let those of you who are interested in actually reading something like this, know that it's not a neatly packaged little existence we're living-- nor that we're stepping into. There are a lot of emotions and feelings going on in our household these days. And though we really, truly, genuinely are excited to be going to the US-- it's more complicated than that. All that, and the fact that I've sunk countless hours into a website for our ministry over the past weeks that crashed 2 nights ago... and I have no clue how to fix it.
So, would you pray for us? Pray for God's peace, for provision, and contentment with what this time ends up looking like.
Thanks for walking with us.