Well, life since I got back to America has been….interesting….and busy. Seems like nothing at all has changed here and I felt like I fell right back into American life and culture. And I haven’t decided yet if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I didn’t really know what to expect upon arriving back in the States. Honestly, I couldn’t have pictured what America looked like or how it functioned prior to leaving Africa, so I was a little bit scared of what I would be encountering when I landed and how I would handle that. With all of that said, America seemed strangely “normal” from the minute I stepped off the plane and greeted my parents at the gate and even as I took that first bite of juicy steak at Longhorn’s Steakhouse later that night.
We got back home about midnight that Saturday night and attended church the next morning. I guess in my heart I was expecting to come back to a dead American church. One that neither knew nor cared what I had been doing the past two years, but was mainly concerned about whether or not their service was “cool” enough to draw a large crowd. I don’t know why I thought that…those aren’t the kinds of churches I usually attend, but I did think that perhaps people would be indifferent to me or distant to me. Those were the kinds of stories I had heard from others when they returned home and I feared it would be the same for me. My experience couldn’t have been further from that. I felt welcomed and encouraged by people who told me they had been consistently lifting me up and following the work. I felt like people were genuinely interested in what I had been doing and as I sat in the church that first Sunday back, I was thrilled to know that the church body had been working even harder than me. They had a recap of projects done in Moultrie and around the world and I was so grateful to be reminded that they had been focused on making disciples and spreading the word and working to help those less fortunate….and some of them had never left their hometown, although many certainly had. What a good thing to come home to. What a sweet reminder that the Father is about His business both in Africa and in Moultrie, Georgia. I didn’t come home to a church body that couldn’t relate. I came home to one that I had been working alongside the whole time…even when I didn’t realize it.
That first week back I traveled up to Virginia for a debriefing time for the past two years. Now, in Moultrie, many people seem impressed that I just got back from two years in Africa. At this conference, everyone had just returned from 2+ years overseas and no one was impressed. And that was good. As I sat there, the girl on my left had spent two years in the Amazon jungle sleeping in a hammock, washing everything (clothes, dishes, herself) as well as brushing her teeth out of the Amazon river. The girl on my right had spent two years hiking the Himalayan mountains, sometimes for weeks on end, as she traveled in and out of villages only reachable by foot to share the Word. I’ll tell you what, I decided right then and there that my little house in my little town in Africa that had water, electricity (most of the time) and internet was a pretty dang good setup. I felt a little humbled. About the time you think you gave something up for the Father, you begin to realize that you had it good all along. It was a great time of getting to share stories and hear stories from others who had been doing the same kind of work as me and were just as lost as me upon returning to America.
One thing is for sure, America hasn’t slowed down any since I left, but my pace might have slowed some while I was in Africa. Life has been busy, but waaaaaaay more efficient and convenient than African life, and I have been running hither and tither since returning. I am just about ready to settle for a minute and enjoy a calm Christmas holiday with my family.