I’ll be arriving home, in America, on June 22. I’ll be leaving home, Papua New Guinea, on June 13.
What a weird thing. Two homes. Two places containing my life, people I love and who love me. This is the year of another major transition. It happens for us missionaries about once every 2 to 3 years, more often for most. It’s exhilarating. It’s exhausting. It’s exciting. It’s stressful. It’s emotional. It’s a lot more things.
What’s going on in my head? Honestly, I have no idea. It’s confusing and frustrating, surrounded by joy and expectation. And I can’t put most of what I feel into words. I’ve been here before, 3.5 years ago. But that means nothing. It’s always new and different.
In these next 10 weeks, I have to get my house ready for someone else to live in while I’m gone. I purge – a lot. I clean. I decide what needs to come home with me, what I need to buy for family, friends, and partners. I try to plan how all of it is going to fit into one 50lb. checked bag and two little carryons. Is that ever possible? Should I just pay the extra bag fee?
I finish up things at work – try to finish well – while also planning what things will look like when I return seven months later. Is all my crap organized enough to be out of the way for other teachers to use the space? Is what I’ve been teaching organized enough for a new teacher to use my materials? What do I need to know for new things I’ll be teaching?
I strategically and intentionally plan time with my people, to soak up as much time as possible with them before we part for months, maybe a year or more. Will this be the last time I really get to hang out with them for a while? Should I say goodbye now, or wait until we might hang out again? Is this possibly the last time I may ever see them again?
I plan what my time in America is going to look like. Family. Friends. Travel. Informing partners and spreading knowledge about what I do. Education. So much excitement. Some days I can hardly contain it. Some days it stresses me out. Most days I try to push down the feelings so I can focus on my work and relationships here, now. And I question… Can I fit everything in? Can I meet everyone’s expectations? (The answer to that is always ‘no’ :))
And I look back on the last 2 years and some months. What defined this field term? I hit my mid-30s. I learned much about myself. I tried new things (teaching dance, photography, economics; serving on staff at POC, redeeming my first experience there; hiked a mountain and didn’t wash my hair for 5 days – ew). Friendships were deepened; they are so precious to me. New friendships were made. Some friendships evolved. Some friendships faded a little. Some ceased altogether. There was happiness and excitement. There was grief and sorrow. There was anger and pain. There was joy. Most days are ‘normal’. Some are heavenly. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed, and it’s all I can do to exist.
Beauty is my word for this year. And I think that defines everything for me. I am surrounded by beauty every day. You can’t live here and not notice it. But not just in nature. In the people. In relationships. In conflict. In the heartache. In the ashes. In the mundane. In the struggle. In tears. In weakness. In courage. In the pain. In the unknown. In growth. In breathing. In who I am.
God is good. So good. He knows. And He’s got this.