As I sit by the lake watching the sun rise and writing this blog several of my close friends are preparing to leave the Africa Mercy for the final time and return to their passport countries. My thoughts and prayers drift to them often because I know a small piece of what lies ahead for them.
It’s been 6 months now since I returned from my floating home in Africa. In some ways, it seems like it was just yesterday and in other ways it feels like years. As I was preparing to return to the US many of my friends who preceded me in the reentry process encouraged me that I would need to give myself a lot of grace and time to adjust. I had no idea what lie ahead for me. I knew I was returning to Texas first to spend time with family and friends and to rest. My first few months consisted of just that. I was so thankful to be near the people I had been separated by thousands of miles for 4 years. I had lots of time with my family, or sitting by the fire reading, or going for walks. It was a time of much needed rest and recovery.
I was not experiencing the grief and hardship I had expected to when I arrived back stateside. I was just really happy to be back. In March I visited my brother and his family in Knoxville, Tennessee. As soon as I landed here God made it clear this is where he wanted me for my next season. I returned to Texas, spent a week packing up and saying goodbye once again and then boarded a plane to begin yet another transition. It was very difficult to say goodbye to my family and friends once again, but a little easier knowing I was a short flight away. I was thrilled to be moving to a place where there are mountains, trees, lakes and lots of outdoor activities. I was also so thankful that God made it so clear that this is where he wanted me. I love this place! That being said, the last 2 months have been extremely difficult. I am having to grow in my faith and trust in the Lord in whole new ways.
The grief of what I had left behind on a ship in Africa hit me full force with this second transition. I feel like I am having to re-learn how to live in my own culture again as the person I am having lived 4 years abroad. I left a ship family of people I had been intimately connected with for 4 years. I left close friends who knew me and that I knew like no other friendship I have ever experienced. We were in the trenches together for 4 years and now all of a sudden, they are ALL half a world away. My heart grieves for those friendships while also trying to connect in a new place. With the pain and grief of all the recent goodbyes it makes it that much harder for me to conquer fear and be willing to connect on a deep level here even when I know it is so worth it. I am so thankful that God’s perfect love casts out all fear. I can trust him with my heart no matter what lies ahead.
He has already been so gracious to quickly connect me to a local church, small group and I am quickly connecting with several key people that it’s clear the Lord has divinely connected me with. This season has not been easy but I am so thankful for the way it has increased my faith and trust in the Lord.
Thanks to all of you who have prayed and encouraged me!