It’s Wednesday afternoon, the day before I will post this article.
Downstairs, the cuckoo chimes 3:30pm. I can faintly here my kiddos laughing to Wild Kratts now beginning downstairs while snuggled up next to each other under a warm blanket. They love PBS- something new to them since we’ve returned from the DR.
Upstairs, the last load of laundry churns, iced coffee by my side as I sit under the covers of my bed, still in my cozies from last night. It’s been a long, productive, fun day of homeschool. The girls love it. I love it. Our family supports it. I’ll write more on this happiness of homeschool another day. Today my heart is tender. I always light a candle when I write and the smell of lavender and vanilla finally begin to replace the sulphur from the long striker match I used just minutes before.
I feel reflective. Maybe it’s the candle. It reminds me of the Dominican. I did bring it all the way across oceans with me. Maybe because it’s November, the month we would normally be preparing to come back for our stateside trip to visit family, travel, and fundraise. Although this year there is no flurry of activity to prepare for our departure. There are no meetings being setup, no church visits or speaking engagements, no dinners in cities where we will speak about the mission God has given us in hopes that God would move others to join us. There is no Christmas photoshoot (in October!!) for our December update postcard to our supporters and no year end preparations for organizational meetings. I am always looking forward while simultaneously appreciating what is behind us. When I look forward now, it looks vastly different and more scary than it did two years ago.
As I mourn and deeply press into that ache in my soul where it feels like a piece of me, a Dominican piece is missing, the peace of Jesus continues to fill in all of the cracks and tears in my heart. I find myself deeply thankful for a country that I wasn’t born in, but became my home on Earth and for a group of people who became family for a decade, who stood by me as a 25 year old know-it-all and helped me mature and grow in faith, love, and practices. I am thankful for the place where I found and fell in love with my husband and for the beautiful seven years of raising our daughters in a foreign country that God gave me. The people, the lessons, the country, the love, the children, the missionaries, the Dominicans and Haitians won my heart over and as long as I have breath, I will praise him for the 10 years he gifted me there, alongside some of the greatest people I have known and I am grateful I returned back to the US with 3 of them! 🙂
It’s hard to talk about the DR. It’s hard to talk about what my life used to look like. I often find others shaking their heads up and down while I talk, but not really understanding, and that’s okay, because they didn’t live it. We can’t truly understand unless we’ve walked in someone’s shoes, and yet, I am so grateful for friends here who have taken the time to know about my previous history overseas. Sometimes it’s easier to just not talk about it, and yet, while I may not speak physically about it, the topic and the thoughts are never far from my mind. Like waves of grief it comes and goes. I imagine, it will come again in January, when we aren’t preparing to “return home to the DR,” when we aren’t trying to fit 2 months of shopping into 8 suitcases, when we aren’t saying goodbyes to family stateside, when we don’t book plane tickets and we don’t wake up at 3:30am on January 2nd or 3rd as we had done for the last 10 years. I know another wave of grief will come, but for now, I will continue to praise him, to give thanks, to think fondly of the memories we made and shared, to know that it meant something and it still does mean something. To know our lives aren’t “over,” rather the scenery has just changed. To believe the greatest adventures are still ahead. I will remind myself of this again and again and again as many times as I need reminding.
And just like clockwork, the laundry chimes, the last load done. Wild Kratts is over. It’s time to blow out the candle, close the computer and move on just as our lives will continue to move on.