Sometimes the transition between cultures can be easy and other times it is challenging or exhausting... or maybe both.
We were ready to leave the States. After only a little more than 2 months there, we were well ready to get home.
But "home" can be a vague and elusive concept.
Waking up in Africa that first morning back felt good. We weren't home yet, but the Mennonite Guest House in Nairobi feels familiar, a favorite childhood haunt to almost everyone in our family. In fact, I am the only one in our family of 6 who didn't grow up with frequent stays there. I began staying there in my early 20's though and that's hardly very grown up, is it?
Anyway, the magical garden with it's dark green shade, bright flowers and chameleons is always a comforting sight.
Funny, though, when we finally got back to Arusha, we hit a bit of a wall.
It was the Africa factor. Not the wonderful parts of Africa factor. No, it was the hard parts factor. The friends who are struggling. The crops that failed. The hardships we know of. Then it was the funny things like the poor workmanship on things that Byron would really like to see done better. The seemingly strange ways the city plans... or doesn't.
Our conclusion after the first kind of difficult (but not entirely so) week home was that 1) we were very tired from our work in the States and 2) we weren't anticipating anything less than joy at being back. (That's always when you get the transition-shock... when you're not expecting any.)
Things have settled down now and we've already hosted one of our summer teams. We are back in the groove, let's say, and it all feels so normal and, for the most part, so very, very good.
Again, it's as I've said in numerous other posts on transition between worlds, it just takes time. It doesn't help to arrive tired and jump straight into things but that's just the way it had to be.
What I held onto it this: our family was happy to be home.
After the long flights that connected us from Los Angeles to Nairobi, the announcement finally came that we needed to buckle up to land. Strange as it sounds, we hadn't given much thought to Africa as we had been so occupied with getting out of America.
But as the steward announced the approach and decent, Colin turned to me.
"Hey," he said, his voice lilting up into the smile that was appearing on his face, "Hey... Africa!"
It's good to be home.