In 12 hours, si Dios quiere, (the Lord willing) I will be on my way to the Santiago airport to catch a flight back to the U.S. To Visalia, California, (by way of Miami and Las Vegas) for New Staff Orientation at the stateside SI office.
To be honest, I was kind of dreading this. At MTI we learned that, if possible, one should stay in their new culture for the initial 18 months. It takes about that long for someone to go through the various stages of transition (for more on that, check out my previous Transition Bridge posts).
I left my home in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on June 25 but since I spent the summer in Guatemala, I’ve only been in the DR since September 25. Three months. So, I’m only 16.67% of the way through my transition. I’ve barely started to make sense of things here, putting down the smallest of roots.
And, it’s right after the holidays, a time when differences in cultures and feelings of loneliness can be amplified. What happens if I get knocked all the way back to the first days, and forget all my Spanish in the process?!
Umm, yeah, my imagination tends to go a bit overboard! After fretting for far too long, I finally swallowed my pride and asked my prayer supporters to pray about this.
Wow, has our gracious and loving God been answering! Sometime over this past weekend, my fears about this trip started to lessen. As I was walking back from church yesterday, I realized I’m going to miss seeing Dona Gloria, Maria and her kids, and Lisa (although, I hope she gets another bath before I get back!!).
I’m going to miss my little apartment, fresh pina, reading out on my little porch. I’m going to miss the sunshine and blue skies and mountains. Very simply, I’m going to miss… home.
And you know what? The fact that I’m going to miss it is awesome! Despite the fact that for the past three months (actually the past six!), even casual conversation and simple decisions have taken a great deal of thought and energy, this is where I want to be.
Yes, there is plenty that I still need to learn. Plenty of challenges just up ahead. I’m still an outsider, and probably always will be. I’m still struggling to catch all that is said to me, and that will probably continue well into this new year. I’m still learning how things work in El Callejon, and will be stretched even more as teams come down and we begin new projects.
Today I saw Alexandra, one of our young moms from El Callejon, in Jarabacoa. She was with her sweet son, Andreas, and gave me a shy smile when I kissed her cheek hello. I was so excited to see them. While I’ve enjoyed this time of rest, I’m eager to get back and see everyone.
For me, going back will be a kind of going home, too. Home, not because I feel like I fit in perfectly, not because it’s comfortable or easy, but because it’s where God has called me. He has given me a heart for El Callejon and the people there, and after all, “home is where the heart is”!
And so, in the Holy Spirit’s power, I’m going to California, not in fear, but in anticipation. I get to meet the wonderful SI staff there, members of our Board, and other field staff (including my awesome sister-in-Christ I’ve never met in person, Rachel!!).
I’m going to learn more about SI, I’m going to do some shopping (for the Site, and yes, for me, too. I checked, and there’s a Target there!), I’m going to enjoy drinking tap water and flushing my toilet paper down the toilet (too much information? Seriously, though, it’s gonna be great!!)
And then, in the same Holy Spirit power, I’m going to come home.