I think these past months are possibly the longest time in the history of our blog (which began in 2008) that I have not shared a post or two with our readers. It's difficult for me to elucidate why. We are not too busy with our lives in the US; it seems more of a sense of not knowing what to say. For the first time ever we're not getting ready for something, or doing the work we set out to do. To be clear, Serge asks their missionaries to spend about 80% of their time in the field (Burundi) and 20% of their time in their home culture (US). Eric and the kids and I have been back in the US since April and our trip had nothing to do with upcoming elections or potential violence. It was just our turn to go, and we will be here through January of 2016 at which time we have every intention of heading back to Kibuye.
It's been an interesting several months here in America and several times I have sat down to write a blog and come up empty. There's all the talk of reverse culture shock, but others have written excellent posts about that already, many of which I have read on Facebook. Perhaps you have, too, or perhaps I just see a lot because I have a lot of missionary friends. :) They detail everything from the overwhelming cereal aisle in the grocery store to the uncomfortable feeling of never being able to "go home." I don't really feel like I have anything else to say on the subject. Eric and I were prepared for most of these feelings already and the only irrational urge I got those first few weeks was to stand in the middle of the Super WalMart store and yell at the top of my lungs, "People, you have no idea!" There's just So. Much. Stuff. And so many choices and options and alternatives and products that you didn't even know existed but now can't live without.
Then there's been everything going on in Burundi, which feels to us like the elephant in the room every time someone or no one writes a blog post. We have always striven to remain politically neutral on our blog and so many times it seems best to not say anything at all, and just pray instead of write. When the coup went down, now 6 wks ago, those 36 hours seemed to stretch on for weeks for me. I thought about Burundi and its people and our team and all the implications almost constantly. And many said to me, "I'll bet you're so glad not to be there right now." It was difficult to try to explain that in fact in so many ways I DID want to be there right then. Burundi has become my home. My team is there, my friends are there, my work is there, even my house and my stuff are there. And while I didn't relish the idea of making a decision to stay or go, I wanted to be in the midst of it all.
So, now our family is in Michigan until December. We enjoyed 2 months with Eric's family in Nashville. We're settling in to our little place in Ann Arbor. Eric and I are working several days a week, the kids are going to VBS at Knox, and we're looking forward to putting Maggie and Ben in school this fall. It's been awesome to be present for birthdays and births, to see old friends and supporters, to connect in new and different ways, to revisit what it means to live an American life. We own a mini van and 2 smart phones, and I go to the grocery store 3 times a week and watch videos on Amazon Prime. It's been fun, but even life here in America has become cross cultural to us. I am a westerner who lives in an African country, and many of the cultural practices in America have become foreign. There are days when I love being here, and days when I miss the purpose of being in Burundi. I had figured out how to live in Burundi; now, I need to figure out how to live in America again. I need to figure out, in a world where everything is available and possible, what is worth spending my time and money on. And how to stay connected to Burundi, and keep my kids connected. I'm sure we'll get there, or get closer, as the months go by, just in time to return to Kibuye in January!
There's really nothing profound here, but hopefully this helps people know what's floating around in my head when you see me and ask how we're "transitioning." And I hope it helps me transition into writing about our American experiences more on the blog. We hope to see many of you in the months to come! Drop us a line if you want to come visit us in Ann Arbor this summer/fall.