We got home from the airport about 3am Tuesday morning. It was so good to see my family! My parents and my brother all came to pick me up. I flew from Johannesburg to London to Chicago to Cleveland - it was quite the journey. Alyssa and I got to enjoy some sightseeing during our hours in London.
It was pretty cool. We had a friend of a friend who was supposed to meet us and show us around, but he was an older gentleman who ended up getting sick, so he just sent us directions as to the type of subway ticket to buy and the places we could walk to see, and they were very easy to follow. We mostly just walked around and looked at the sights - we didn't have much time and entrance to everything cost an arm and a leg! We got to see Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Thames, and a couple of monuments and nice parks.
Alyssa's flight left about 3pm, and mine about an hour later. I lost her going through security, and just about freaked out because I hadn't gotten to say goodbye. Some really nice older guy from security told me to go downstairs and have the help desk page her...but not to tell them why because otherwise they wouldn't do it. I managed to convince the lady at the help desk that it was VERY IMPORTANT that I talk to my friend before her flight left. (Being back in a country where customer service is a thing, was wonderful. All of the airline attendants were SO sweet when I kept losing people, or getting seats mixed up, etc.) Then I stood forlornly in the middle of the busy aisle trying to spot her - the very place where I waited 7 hours for her to show up in January, as a matter of fact. She didn't actually hear the page, but she managed to find me anyway, for which I was very grateful. Saying goodbye was very hard, we'll just leave it at that. God has taught us both so much together this year and we have a very tight friendship. Please pray for us both as we go back to our lives at home, me for a few months and her indefinitely.
The long flight from London to Chicago was kind of lonely, but I had a good half-dozen or so notes from friends, stored away in my bag, to cheer me up. (Or, alternately, make me tear up, but oh well, I know I am loved.)
My plane finally got in to Cleveland around midnight and I got to see my family shortly thereafter! I about tripped coming down the escalator...I missed them so much. Then, we had 1 1/2-2 hour drive home. At last, my own bed! I'd forgotten how wonderfully soft a mattress can be. =)
I've spent the last two days unpacking, visiting friends, and purging my STUFF. A year gives a good perspective. I can't believe how much stuff I thought was worth keeping! The entire year away, I never said, "Man, I really wish I had my church camp notes from 2008!" or "Wow, I wish I had my disposable wrist band from when we visited the science center in 2006!" or, "I'm sure glad I saved all the name tags I ever got!" Don't think I haven't missed any of my stuff, though...getting dressed feels like I just went clothes shopping because of all the variety, and I walk around talking to my possessions like a ditz: "Pink tool kit, I wished I had you!" and "Brown boots, I have missed you!" and "Drawing supplies, you are coming back with me!"
I'm also eating some of the things I've craved all year...I went out and bought Lucky Charms and Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies. There were shouts of joy when I discovered pepperoni in the fridge, and the Ranch dressing bottle is significantly lower. It is also too cold to run/exercise outside. This could be a problem. But honestly, I think the cravings will abate very soon...=)
I also get to drive now! This was thrilling. (My power steering fluid thingy also needs fixed. This is not thrilling.)
All that superficial stuff aside, though? I am soooo glad to be able to spend time with the people who matter to me. And I am really missing the OTHER people who matter to me. I got to go to choir tonight and see church friends, and now I'm missing my Living Hope family. (It's been all of three days...) My heart is most definitely in two places. This has its advantages - I am loved and have people I love wherever I am. This has its disadvantages - even if I do my best to live in the moment, I am perpetually missing someone (or a lot of someones). Also, I go through Alyssa withdrawal and Lerato withdrawal and I-desperately-need-to-hug-a-squishy-orphan-baby withdrawal.
Like these cuties! These are the ten that I was privileged to care for over the last ten months. Can you handle that much squishiness???
I have been convicted this year about some of that superficial stuff (the few random foods I couldn't find, comforts of home, my pillow-top mattress) mattering more to me than relationships. I think it was because it was easier to complain about a lack of chocolate syrup than about missing my mother. Coming home just reinforces the fact that that stuff doesn't really matter. Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies are not as ultimately satisfying as my friends back in Africa (even if they are really yummy and pretty much inimitable.) (The cookies, not the people.)
Although it's been great, it does feel strange to be back home! Honestly, it even feels weird to say the word "home"...because even though I'm only committing for a year (to start), this is truly only half my home now. I miss living with people constantly around. Quiet time is nice too, but I can only handle so much of that before I start itching. I think I'm allergic to it. (Oh, how I pity the introverts who have lived around me. I think I need to work on this. I think they would agree. You know who you are. ;) ) I am working hard to remedy all this quietness around me. If you live nearby and want to hang out, let me know. =) Only, I should probably bring my yarn because I'm about to turn into a crocheting machine, tomorrow.
Please pray for me as I'm finally starting to get a little stressed/overwhelmed with the idea of fundraising. I don't have an exact total yet, but I think I will be needing to raise between $15,000 and $20,000. This is more than last year - my goal is to buy a car, and I will be paying for car insurance and gas (petrol). I don't think I can crochet that many hats! I will have a post, next, about the different fundraisers that are going on. I'm selling some beautiful paper bead necklaces I brought back from Africa, and I'll post more about the different crochet items people can order.
One funny story before I go!
So, we went to the Boeremark (Afrikaans farmer's market) on Saturday before we left. Janelle bought this delicious looking kebab of meat. Donovan asked her what type it was.
Janelle: Oh, it was elk! And only 22 rand! I just had to try it!
Donovan: Elk? Really? (This would be like coming to America and having kudu kebabs. Elk aren't from here. It's just weird.)
Janelle: Yeah, the sign said "22 Rand Elk!"
"Elk" is the word for "each" in Afrikaans. Most of us can deduce this by now. Poor Nellie. =P
We love you!
I think it's time to call it a night! I'm trying to shake this jet-lag thing, but it isn't gone yet.
To my Ohio family - it's been wonderful to see you and hug you.
To my South African family (and "African-American" family - the missionaries and other interns) - I miss you so much already.
I love you both!
~ Auntie Abbie