Coming Home

by Rachel

I have heard that the least favorite question a missionary kid can get asked is one of the American standards: "Where are you from?"  Um, do you want the 2 second answer or the 10 minute answer?  Where do I live right now?  Where was I born?  Where did I live most recently before right now?  Where does my family (i.e. parents) live?  We McLaughlins have a hard time with that question, too.  And at any point in time, the answer could be Michigan, Nashville, Phoenix, or France, until recently.  Now I am wondering if it's ok to say, Africa.  We're not really FROM Africa, but I think that in some ways, we are from here.  Eric and the kids and I arrived in Kenya on July 8.  Other than 3 pieces of missing luggage (now found), it was awesome.  The sights, the smells, the experiences.  I didn't even mind the exhaust fumes (I'm sure that won't last long).  Staying at Mennonite Guest House...the breakfast bell, the Imperial Leather soap, the giant tree swing.  ABC Place...the 2 well dressed Indian men at Gilani's Butchery, the cheap bill at Zucchini's, the ginger lemonade at Java House.  The drive to Tenwek...escarpment views, baboons by the side of the road, the Kenol station bathroom stop.  I turned to Eric at one point and said, "It's like we're returning after three months instead of two years."  I can't even explain all the emotions inside me right now, but they are mostly those of joy.  It's like we're coming home.
Family of 3 early in 2010 in front of our building
2 children on the porch of the same building - summer 2011
The joy continues at Tenwek.  Everywhere we turn, there are familiar faces.  Kenyans, missionaries.  Hospital staff, house helpers, passers-by. Some faces are missing, but most are still here.  Hugs, greetings, exclamations about how the kids have grown.  Some things have changed, but most are familiar.  The buildings, the trees, the dogs and turtles and chameleons.  I worked in the hospital 2 days last week, after two years away from clinical medicine.  It's like I stepped back in time, like no time has passed.  Rounds are the same problems with the same treatments.  Scrubbing in to a C-section (or four) required no extra thought...my hands slipped into the gloves, draped the patient, held the needle drivers,  tied the knots.  Four beautiful, healthy babies born, a grace from God.

Rachel with baby Ben in front of the Tenwek waterfall - 2011
family of 5 in front of the same waterfall, July 2013

I know that life at Tenwek was not and is not all joy.  There is tragedy and sadness and frustration.  But for now, for this time, I am so blessed to be here.  I feel like it's a perfect stopping point before diving back into the new and unknown, a chance to communicate and feel my gifts at work before going back into a situation with new languages and cultures.  So I look forward to these next weeks, and I pray they would continue to be a blessing to my family, as we hope to be a blessing back to Tenwek.


tscarlet said...

Praise God that he does not leave us in the "dry season" forever! How gracious our Father is to us that He brings us to these spring-fed streams and lets us lie down in green pastures of the soul.

Janet said...

Rejoicing with you!