After nearly two years of living in Cambodia, our family visited the United States for the first time. I had grand plans for how I was going to spend my time in America. I would:
- Catch up on sleep.
- Catch up on reading (thanks to my public library obsession).
- Walk in safe, quiet neighborhoods (a favorite pre-Cambodia activity).
- Read aloud to my kids (because we homeschool Charlotte Mason style).
- Play outside with my children (and enjoy American public cleanliness).
None of those things happened the way I envisioned. Accustomed to tropical temperatures, I froze in Midwestern winter. This kept me from walking and playing outside. We traveled a lot and met with a lot of people, which exhausted my introvert self, and instead of reading aloud to my children, I let them watch too much television. I didn’t sleep enough, and I even neglected my own personal reading.
As I neared the end of my time in America, I looked back over the past few months, dissatisfied. Disappointed in myself. With that in mind, I further examined my time in America. What I discovered were some unexpected blessings:
- Driving was easy. I had been nervous to drive again because I hadn’t driven the entire time I lived in Cambodia. (If you come visit, you can see for yourself why that is.) Happily, driving came back to me quickly.
- I picked up exactly where I had left off with friends, as if nothing had changed. In the space of two years, people change. We’ve changed, our friends have changed. But somehow our friendships still feel very much the same to me. Thank you for loving us just the same. Thank you for opening your dinner tables and your guest rooms to us. Thank you for inviting us into your lives and investing in ours. Relationships that span the test of time are a glimpse of heaven to me.
- I remembered my childhood piano and ballet lessons more easily than I expected. I’m stretching my right brain this year, having devoted many years solely to my left brain. (I’ll still be reading science magazines, thanks to the friends who send them our way.)
- I practiced speaking in public, and it wasn’t nearly as scary as I had thought. I spoke three times (which is admittedly not very many), but I was surprised to find myself growing in confidence and ability to at least pretend I wasn’t nervous. Who knew that was possible??
How does one describe a furlough? Well, mine certainly wasn’t expectable. I can also definitively say this: I am weary. For me, furlough consisted of three months of sustained fatigue.
With less than a week left on American soil, I have mixed feelings about my return to Cambodia. (Yes, not only am I conflicted about the furlough itself, but I am also conflicted about its conclusion.) I want to go back to my life in Asia, though I’m not ready to say goodbye to the people and places I love but so seldom see.
I have kept Cambodia in my heart and mind these past 3 months. I love you, and I miss you, and I will be with you soon. Over the next two years, as I’ve done the last two, I will keep America in my heart and my mind. I love you, and I will miss you. Lord willing, I’ll be back again someday, ready once again to share life with you, however brief our time together may be.