Monday, February 13, 2012

More Blogs

Check out the blogs of the newest members of the South Sudan team! You will find links on the right margin of my blog.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Grieving the Losses

This picture was taken two months ago after I cleared customs at Miami International Airport by my parents who were waiting with plenty of hugs and kisses. I made it back to the US with my trunks, and after several weeks finally unpacked them all (well almost). The emotional unpacking will take longer.

Today I gave an update at my sending church, WEPC. Speaking about South Sudan still makes me emotional. I'm not sure that I have really grieved the losses yet. I hold back tears often when I talk about my friends in South Sudan and the WHM team. I miss them a lot.

The losses are many, and at least for now, I hesitate to truly count them even though I know that counting the losses will be a part of my transition process.

When I went to Colorado a few weeks ago for a week of debriefing, they said it usually takes about 2 years to transition back to life in America after serving overseas for 2 years. I have 1 year and 10 months to go. Of course everyone is different and that is just a generalization, but it felt good to admit to myself that the process may not be quick.

I am so thankful for my friends at WEPC who asked me good questions at the longer update after church. Of course everyone wants to know what's next for me? I have an answer for that question. Starting in August of this year I will be a graduate student at Eastern University outside of Philadelphia pursuing a masters degree in international development.

The harder questions usually follow. Will I go back to Mundri? I will give you same answer I gave to my S. Sudanese friends. In Moru I would say "Lu ni ni", in English that translates to "God knows".

Goodbyes are hard, but I am always thankful for good goodbyes. I am thankful for the ways I was able to say goodbye to my S. Sudanese friends as we sat underneath a shade tree talking and eating pumpkin muffins. I baked a lot of pumpkin muffins my last few weeks in Mundri. I am thankful for the silly songs my teammates sung at my goodbye festivities. I am thankful whenever I see the quilt Karen sewed for me or the wall hanging with jokes, song lyrics, verses, and personal notes from the team. Saying goodbye well really helped with my transition back to the US.

I know that I will also be thankful when I let the tears flow, grieve, and count the losses whenever that happens. Today though, I am just thankful for the ways that WEPC has cared for me and loved me over the last three years. I am thankful for the men and women who have cared for many other missionaries before me, and understand where I am in the transition process.

A side note on change:

A lot of things have changed in Richmond and at WEPC over the years I was living in Mundri. One thing has not changed. Steve still speaks the same benediction that I have heard him say hundreds of times before. Even when I was worshiping at Okari church in Mundri, South Sudan across an ocean, those words often ran through my mind at the end of the service. It is hard to describe how encouraging those words were to me today, and what they have meant to me over the last five years.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

WEPC in Richmond, VA

So this is really late notice, but for those who don't get my prayer letter, I will be at West End Presbyterian Church in Richmond, VA tomorrow for both services.