Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Adventures in America!

When you walk with Jesus, life is an adventure! The amazing thing is that Jesus doesn't send us on ahead - alone into unknown territories, to "figure things out" on our own. No, He is with us each step of the way. So, you may feel like you are venturing into what is strange, different, unfamiliar, difficult or stretching, but you are never, ever alone. And, if He is with you, everything is okay.

God showed me this throughout my time of preparation to leave Uganda, traveling 30 hours, and now readjusting to being back in America. When I needed a suitcase, He told me He'd take care of it. And, He did - providing a quality bag for a very reasonable price from a friend. When I didn't know how I would get to the airport, He prompted good friends to take care of all of the arrangements and I had the incredible blessing of being escorted by two good friends. When I "needed" coffee and water on my layover in London, God provided them free of charge - a funny story, but I was again assured of His presence.

These may seem like small things, but for a single woman, they meant so much.

Upon arriving back in the states, I spent an amazing two weeks with my dear sister in Pennsylvania. During the first week, I tagged along as much as possible around the Bible school campus where she lives and works. This included a Sunday trip to New York City to watch the students present a service - very fun!

Summit students presenting a service at Times Square Church.

Leah and I in Times Square Church during our evening walk. The city was amazingly bright at night with all of the illuminated signs and buildings.
The ice skating rink and the Christmas tree being assembled at Rockefeller Center.

In the second week, Leah and I ventured on a 1700+-mile road trip. In the space of four days, we traveled through 10 states - Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio -  through some beautiful country and reconnected with some amazing people. I had the blessing of visiting 10 different people whom I first met in Uganda and many who had been on the island. I thank God for His protection and the great weather we had for most of our journey.

The Wolfer family graciously hosted us during our time in South Carolina, for a great time of fun, food, fellowship, and lots of laughter. :)

How amazing to reconnect with Delaney, center, in SC after having the blessing of her presence on the island this past summer. She was an awesome tour guide, showing us around the beautiful campus of the University of South Carolina, and great company for a fun evening afterward. :)

The stunning USC campus.

After two nights in SC, we headed north again, this time traveling a bit west. A stop in Marion, North Carolina gave us a chance to see the Wise family - Mark, Michelle and Josh, whom I first met in Uganda. We enjoyed a delightful lunch before hopping back on the road, headed north for Ohio.

Leah drove most of the many hours on the road. There was a weird correlation between my driving and her getting sick. Weird. ;)

Traveling essentials: Triscuits and gummy bears, as well as chicken nuggets from Wendy's and lots of cups of coffee. :)

Driving through Kentucky on Wednesday evening. We passed through some beautiful country and by so many tourist and historical sites. But, because of our tight schedule, we had to just keep driving. :(

All of our driving, however, took us to more amazing people, like my friend Mindy, in southwest Ohio. We crashed at her place on Wednesday night and had a wonderful time reconnecting. 

This stop in Ohio also yielded my first visit to a Chick-fil-A. It was a delicious success!

We saw more snow on the ground in Ohio than anywhere else during our travels. Thankfully, no snow fell while we drove.

Beautiful Ohio farmland.

We joyfully returned to Pennsylvania on Thursday night, grateful for our fun adventure, but glad to be back "home" and our own beds.

Before flying out to Oregon on Saturday afternoon, I had one more full day with my dear sister on Friday. Some dear friends treated us to a day at the spa at The Hotel Hershey, an early birthday gift for Leah and a nice change from four full days of intense travel. We had to get used to walking around in bathrobes, but enjoyed a delightful and restful day of swimming, a delectable lunch, and pampering with manicures and pedicures. :)

In our very comfortable robes at the spa.
Our fun Friday ended with a surprise birthday party for Leah, hosted by her wonderful housemate Bethany. So many people came out to celebrate Leah and the blessing she is!

It was with mixed emotions that I boarded the plane in Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon, sad to be leaving my beloved sister behind, but looking forward to seeing my parents and so many dear friend and family members on the West Coast. 
I believe my adventures in America have only just begun, but I am so far very grateful for God's protection, provision, and the incredible people and blessings He has put in my life. I'm looking forward to what else is in store - only God knows! :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Helping You Help Me

Hi y'all! I am writing this blog post from beautiful (yet, too cold) Pennsylvania.

I safely arrived stateside on Friday and am thoroughly enjoying being back on U.S. soil. :) I am in the midst of a two-week visit with my beloved sister and then will head west on Nov. 22.

My sister Leah and I. Leah is one of my most favorite people in the whole world and I'm loving being with her, after almost two years of being apart.
I am still adjusting to the time change (8 hrs. difference) which means I am sleeping like a rock at night, but then am also feeling sleepy throughout the day, but it is improving. Like I said, Pennsylvania is cold - about 40+ degrees different. Oh, and my home area of Portland is expecting a half foot of snow today! Yikes! I don't think I am ready for "winter."

Thus far, my transition back has been smooth, but it is possible there will be some bumps ahead. Fellow missionary friends shared the following videos, which I think will be helpful in helping you to know how to help me in this time of furlough. Though the missionary who made the videos is serving in SE Asia, there are still a lot of similarities in that culture and the one of Uganda.

Happy viewing!

The first video is entitled "The Stare," which describes the blank look a returning missionary may assume when faced with a perceived overwhelming situation.

So, I couldn't seem to upload some of the videos to the post, but here are some links:

  • Learn the "secret" truth that missionaries are actually "normal" people, here. :)
  • Learn some good questions here to ask me to find more about what has been happening in my life during the past two years.
  • In the nearly five years in Uganda, I have developed new "normals," which can be far different than the normals I used to have in the U.S. Learn more here.
  • Yes, there is such a thing as "reverse culture shock," which may cause returning missionaries to bring into tears in a cereal aisle. Seriously. Find out more here.
The truth is, we all need grace. Every day. Thank you in advance for your grace and patience with me as I readjust to American life. :)