Handling Home

            People ask how I’m handling being home, and the truth is, I’m doing well.  Really well. 
Though I have my hard moments, I feel like I am embracing this post-Africa season of life, enjoying my family and jumping back into my place here.  
I watch my life mission solidify piece by piece and my heart soars with the dreams I hold close. 
I smile, look into the face of the joys and challenges the coming months and years hold, and prepare to stand firm.  The challenges are there.  They crash in every so often and surprise me.  
Though I handle it well, being thrown from third-world to first-world in a day, or like in SA, multiple times day, are sometimes hard to deal with.  Even last night, as a thunderstorm storm blew in and crashed around us, I fought with myself and the struggle of it all.  
The violence of the storm mirrored the battle I was facing, but just as all storms do, it raged for a time and then blew on out.  I ploughed through the hurt of not having the African little ones I love near.  
I must sit with fact that I am here, and they are there.  That is the hurt, that is the struggle, and though I know God is their Daddy, and I must give them up to Him.  
God is such a good Father, and I know it’s only His grace that has allowed me to transition well into big-and-busy American life.  The struggle is there, but so is He.  And He outweighs the pain with His grace and love every time, and leaves me so thankful for His Africa and the journey He allowed me to walk through there.   

Welcomed Home

            Home I am, and find myself doing very well.  It’s such a blessing that the afternoon and evening went decently smoothly and I didn’t collapse into I-cant-handle-America convulsions, 
as I just may have feared I might.  

The plane’s wheel hit the runway with a jolt and thrust me back into a life that was familiar and yet felt a million years away at the same time.  Even so, I smiled in genuine excitement, and my heart raced as I it hit me for the 27th time that I was so close to seeing my people and squeezing them tight.

  I scurried from the terminal I had entered five weeks and three days before at the start of my adventure, and within minutes was running through the gate into my family’s arms.  And then there I was, there we were, as it nothing had ever changed and I hadn’t been away for a month and a half.  We hugged each other tight and laughed at the fact that it was all so weird that I was actually home, that after all the waiting and traveling I was really back.  
We grabbed my bags and took off for subs and McFlurries before traveling the last leg 
of the journey home to a beautifully decorated house that celebrated that I was back with birthday banners, balloons, ribbons, and drawings.  Made me a little teary as I realized for the 392nd time just how much these people love me, and just how much I love them back. 

The time change and jet lag are hitting hard, but coffee and quite early mornings have been ordained by Jesus and my Momma, and take them I will.  It’s been quite a journey, and it’s wonderful and heart wrenching to be back.   The trip processing is going to run into 
full swing within the next couple hours.  
FYI, if you have an a free afternoon and have the strange desire to drink coffee, listen to a million stories, and go through a billion photos, let me know.  I have just the opportunity for you J. Until then, much love to you all.   

Instagram saw it first, but I truly have missed ice cream and little minion brothers :)

Kissing South Africa Goodbye

excerpt from my journal on July 5th, 2016 – 5:46 Johannesburg, SA time

            So funny to think that I’m still in South Africa.  
Even now my grand adventure seems like a distant dream to me, and the reality of it leaves me teary.  Yes, here I sit in the Johannesburg South African airport, yet my heart hurts as I begin to grieve Africa already.  
This is weird to me.  
I’ve known and thought I had accepted and understood the fact that I would be leaving.  I wasn’t really eager to go, but I looked forward to seeing everyone back home.  The many videos, pictures, and trips to the lake made me long for them and for summer.  I was ready to go home,
 ready throw myself into fun, summery things.  
But now I find that my heart is breaking with loss I hadn’t anticipated.  
I miss everyone desperately.  
I don’t want to give them up yet… I don’t want to give me up.  Leaving Africa, I’m realizing, means leaving part of me.  Life wasn’t all bliss and beauty here.  Days were hard and long, frustrated me, and made me want to curl up and sleep to escape the exhaustion of the struggle I was beginning to realize.
  Yet this was my life, my beautiful African life.  The life where I became a little missionary, where I became a stand-in momma to many precious children. 
 I was ready to get away from the struggle, but right now 
I’m missing home, missing Africa.  I want to be back.  
While at the airport, I noticed the African sun setting, and realized it would be the last one I’ll see for a while.  The beauty of it was stunning, as it always is, and out came the camera for a one last photo.  The phone clicked as the photo was captured, and I shoved it into my pocket.  
My smile faded then, and I sat down in the airport waiting room, realizing that my eyes were heavy and my heart was sad.  Yes, I am leaving.  I am leaving Africa, and right now, it just hurts

Turning the Page

Reflecting on the past year tonight... 
It's my last day of being 16, and the year has been absolutely amazing.  It has honestly been the best year of my life - two mission trips (one still in progress!), a brand new school, a whole lot of growth, and a boatload of memories.  The year has been incredible!  

 The only thing that's getting me is that it actually is almost my birthday.  It is so odd to think about – even the fact that this is July is hard to wrap my head around.  I’ve subconsciously been beginning to look forward to Christmas... in July.  
The cold weather fools me into thinking that it is October or November, and snuggling down, under a million blankets every night only affirms the delusion.  But tomorrow is 
July 3, and I seventeen I will be. 

 It hit me yesterday that it will me my last year of childhood, as well as my last childhood birthday.  Makes me want to cry a little bit – little me is actually growing up.  
But I am excited.  
Tomorrow morning I will wake up, probably sweating from all the blankets, and smile because it will be my birthday.   Then I’ll hear Stanley screaming out, “Good morning, Bethsaida!  How’d you sleeep?”  And I’ll smile and be so thankful for my two “brothers”, one Swiss and one South African, and the trio we make.  

I’ll bake cookies from the recipe I found on Pinterest today and sit down to coffee and a little pow-wow with Jesus.  Then we’ll head out to church at 11, and I’ll get a little teary as I realize that it will be my last Sunday at His People for while.  But soon enough I’ll be grinning again and praising Jesus for another year. 

Turning 17 in South Africa - how's that for a special birthday?!  After church we'll head out to Ms. Kitty house and she'll give me a huge hug saying, "Good morning, sister!  Good morning!"and I will be so happy because I just love that lady and her beautiful, beautiful heart.  Ms.  Dorah will be there in all of her spunk and personality, and make me laugh with her silliness.  Sweet little John will be there as well, and melt my heart a million times over with the sweetness of his.  And I'll smile and thank God for life and how beautiful he has made it.  My God is good, and I am so thankful for another year to see more and more of Him and His power.  Bring it on, seventeen!