In the previous post I mentioned I was not the same person today that I was when I left for Africa five years ago. Realizing the changes, I contemplated how I could share with the my blog audience the new me. Some things are still the same like my knack for finding clearance deals, my love of hymns, making a creative mess into the night to mail a single card, my laugh that will always be too loud, and my obsession with Wheat Thins... just to name a few. These days I'm not sure who reads my updates since its mainly about how this former missionary nurse is coping with life in the states. However, I figured I could share a few of them as prayer points and others just for you to laugh along with me about because it may have happened to you.
1. So I'll start with a light-hearted one. As I sit here at my computer, I'm polishing off a tub of hummus. Hummus, you say? Probably something I would never have touched before 2009. However, when a Lebanese restaurant is on every corner in West Africa, that is what you eat. Our first homemade mexican dinner in Benin, my friends and I decided pita bread was the next best thing in replacing our beloved tortillas. These days I go for the hummus over the salsa when I look for a snack. I also know where to find a schwarma in Arlington or a tasty falafel wrap in Tyler. So my taste-buds have changed just a little which has helped the waist line.
2. When people ask me how I'm doing, I answer "yeah, good". Now I know this is not proper English because my roommate rolls her eyes every time I say it. Sometimes, I kind of say it with a Dutch/German accent not meaning too! I figured my time split with international friends and in Sierra Leone where they use every sentence with "yeah"- this word is in my vocabulary permanently. My family is convinced I have come home with a different accent and inflection when I ask questions too. I also find it that sometimes I am difficult to understand, not sure if its my hearing loss (from African churches' sound systems) or I use different lingo. Like today I used "swab" instead of "sponge" at work and I got some puzzling looks. Some days, I feel like Moses when he tells the Lord he is not worthy of the call because he does not have eloquent speech. Please pray that I may be able to communicate well not only at my workplace, but also it does not hinder any relationships.
3. Most Texans drink ice tea and some (East Texans) add enough sugar to make your cheeks pucker and teeth hurt. So many late nights spent in the dining room on the ship, I learned to love hot tea with a splash of milk. It took me awhile to acquire this taste, but not a day does go by that don't I boil my teapot. I am definitely still frugal and might use the same tea bag for 2-3 cups to get me through my day. Tea reminds me of the fellowship I long for these days... it was what brought people together on the ship whether to play games or just to chat about life. I also would make many cups of tea for my Bible study girls every week in Sierra Leone. Tea makes my heart happy, but these days I miss sharing it with friends. This prayer request is not for me cut to back on tea, but to find friends with the same interests and if its meant to be, to enjoy a cuppa together.
4. Last week I drove through the elements: rain, sleet, fog, and snow. I might have used my horn just a few times. Any of us that have experienced driving/riding in Africa know quite well about the honking. I explain it as cars having a conversation. You might be going around a corner or passing someone, but you always use your horn to let them know you were there. They would respond with a honk. As a pedestrian, horns were your lifesaver. So often I find myself in the maze of highways here in Dallas and I use my horn a little more often just to let people know I'm there. It is a habit I'm trying to break because I don't want to disturb the peace and quiet of the roads. Also, I don't leave home without my GPS which happens to be my phone. My auto-correct once changed GPS to God and I had to giggle a little because both guide me in the right direction. I've talked with others about coming home from Africa and driving is one most of us have to tackle. I think in Africa we learned we couldn't trust other drivers, there are no laws to follow, and you had to pray each time you braved the roads. This is the same mind-set I have when I leave in the morning for work and I ask that you pray not only for safety, but for my anxiety to lessen as I learn to navigate DFW roads with the help of my horn and GPS.
5. The most exciting news for me is I'm going to Africa next week on holiday! Another word that gets quizzical looks as I'm learning again to say "vacation" instead of "holiday". This is no ordinary trip as it requires flights from DFW to Dulles to Senegal to Johannesburg and finally to Cape Town, South Africa. So a few hours on a road trip cannot feed the need to travel, but a 20-hour flight sure gets you to where you need to be. Along with Mercy Ships friends, we are going to celebrate the wedding of our friend Estelle, my former cabin-mate. When you make friends from all over world, you travel half-way around the world to see them. So the two-week adventure involves the wedding, seeing MS friends, Cape Town sights, seeing Victoria Falls in Zambia, a safari in Bostwana, and riding elephants in Zimbabwe. When my friends Maggie & Angie plan a trip they mean serious business and the need for more stamps in the passport. I'm just happy to go along for the ride and hope for a chance to love on some kids since our hostel is next to an orphanage in Zambia. I imagine from from Feb 19- March 5th I will be in my element (and so HAPPY!) and I would appreciate prayers for travel mercies and good times with friends.
There is usually a negative stigma when it comes to change. I've come to embrace it and learn from it. Yes, change is hard and scary sometimes. I don't doubt that because since I've been stateside change has brought not only joy, but tears as well. All along I thought it was life around me changing, but I have realized more that its me that has changed. God used my experiences in Africa to form and change me to who I am today, from my taste buds to what burdens my heart in this broken world. I cling to the hope that change comes from God and that change is good because God is good.