We are here! It is so good to be with family. We have spent the last week in California, catching up Matt’s siblings and parents. It has been great to watch the kids play and get to know each other. Tabitha did not remember much at all about her passport country, so it has been a process of her making some memories that may last. There have been some funny events, including the girls fascination and wonder with automatic toilets, water facets, and soap dispensers. They jump up in down in excitement every time soap shoots automatically into their waiting hand. I will admit, much soap may have been wasted in the process of their had washing experience. Tabitha has been very scared about riding in the car. In Tanzania, there is much traffic, but the fastest we ever go is 50 miles per hour on a two lane ‘highway’ packed with buses and motorcycles causing frequent stops and starts. As we merged onto our first American highway, Tabitha let out a small scream and exclaimed how she was scared about going so fast. I joined her in that fear and have spent the traveling time oscillating between being the worst back seat driver and keeping my eyes shut tight. It is not just the traffic that feels fast. If you have traveled at all in a third world country, you know that everything just moves sloooower. There are jokes, that are not jokes, about African time vs. Western time, and how frustrated the Westerners will get at having to adjust to the snail’s pace and lack of consideration for each ticking minute. It is true in reverse as well. I feel that everything is just going so fast. Lines move fast. Traffic moves fast. People walk fast, and talk fast. It is a whole culture of in and out, get ‘er done, and move on.
I have been here a week, and my head is still spinning. I am sure our adjustment was not helped by the fact that we first settled in the Bay area, where money flows like green tea lattes and ideas and fashion are years ahead of other areas. The tightness of jeans is unsettling, and that is the guys. Evidently short, short skirts are the style for women. We are literally worlds apart from Maasai shukas and kanga wraps. Our time in the Bay is winding down. We have done so much fun stuff, eaten delicious food, laughed and talked with this side of the family. My girls have been awed by museums and parks and love poured out by aunts and uncles and Nana and Grandpa. The overwhelming feeling is this, we are so loved. It is healing and rejuvenating to be poured into. We needed that, more than we even realized I think. Here is a rub, and confession of sorts, we are not doing very good at talking about our year. People wait for us to talk about Africa, about our life and work, they stare at us with hopeful eyes, ready for stories and facts, and I am sad to say, we got nothing. I laugh even as I write ‘we got nothing’ because it completely epitomizes the response when people turn their wide eyes and eager ears in our direction. I so wish the words would come, but every time we try to talk about our years, all we get out is some variation of “it was hard, but so good.” That is it, that was the year, hard and good, hard and good, round and round like some giant sized carousel. I am praying that the words will come, they have to come, because we have several speaking engagements scheduled, and I do not think “it was good and hard” is going to cut it! It is so suprising, because I thought the words would just pour out when given the opportunity to talk to friends and loved ones. I am trusting that our tongues will loosen soon.
Tomorrow we head to Texas. I have loved being in California with Matt’s family, but today I am counting down the hours until I am in the Lone Star State. Even as I write that, me eyes tear up, like I am holding my breath until I can get to that safe space to just relax. Have I relaxed once this year? I do not even know, it feels like the answer is no most days. I love our home in Arusha, I love what we are doing, I KNOW that we are in the right place for our family, but relax is just not part of the deal. I am ready for Tex-Mex and BBQ and coffee with my parents. I cannot wait!!! I am ready for more healing and rejuvenation as friends and family pour into us. I am going to be selfish here, so I can pour out there. We are so loved, and I cannot wait to receive it!