Only three months before furlough and I am up in our hot attic packing boxes. Trying to decide what to keep, what to give away, and what to take back to the States is almost overwhelming. But thoughts of home spur me on. I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about the plane ride that will take us back home.
I am longing to see nieces and nephews that have grown up, to be an aunt they can know and not just read about. How wonderful to be with our parents again! I want to be able to take a hot shower any time, whether or not there’s been enough sunshine to heat up the solar water heater.
I’m thinking about roads that are straight and paved, and clean bathrooms with toilet paper. I look forward to shopping. Sometimes I’ve thought what I’d give for fifteen minutes in Walmart! Now I’ll be able to do that any time!
I’m thinking of being in a Bible study, and not leading one, of going to church and singing songs in English, and of drinking coffee with flavored cream between services! I’m looking forward to lengthy times with the Lord, reading good books, and reflecting. My mind races to quilting, lunches out, and maybe a weekend away with Tom. Oh, and the kids will be in school! They’ll play on baseball teams, take piano, and learn about football.
Those very first hugs are the best. In them you feel all the time and separation dissolve, because you know you will have time to fill in the gaps. Yes, it’s time to go. I’m aching for the warm embrace of home.
Here I am again…not in an attic, but out in our garage. It’s even hotter here than in Africa! Again I’m organizing and packing for our return to Ethiopia. It’s hard to believe we’ve been here nine months already. What do we really need to take with us, what should we store here, and what should we give away? Strangely enough I find myself getting butterflies in my stomach as I think of the trip ahead, crossing the ocean that separates our homes.
My mind races as I think of the pink sunsets that illuminate the valley below our home; the faces of Ethiopian friends; the sound of mortar and pestle as the women rise early to pound their coffee before boiling it; the singing of teenagers as they weed the fields and echo love songs that no one will translate for us.
I think of sending Tom and his entourage off on many mule trips—watching them load up, and then waiting for them to return several days later, slowly making their way down to the house in a pouring rain. I think of the Sunday nights with candlelight suppers and worship with our fellow global workers––praying, seeking God’s hand, sometimes discouraged, often joyful, ever looking to the Lord to provide and work. The cool morning fog still amazes me as it mixes with the smoke rising from the grass roofs, signifying that the cooking fires have been started. I think of the cool concrete floor of our house and clothes drying on the clothesline. I’m thinking of teaching Bible studies again, and of being able to share with the Ethiopian women the neat things the Lord has taught me this year.
I look forward to sharing coffee with friends in their huts around their fires, and catching up on their children and the season, talking about things important to them. I like the simplicity of trying to grow our own garden, and live off of it. I’m eager to start teaching our own kids again in home school, and having more family time. My mouth is watering for injera-b-watt; the food in heaven they call it––sour bread with hot sauces that is shared around one large plate. My heart longs to be part of the team, alongside the other faithful, wonderful global workers throughout Ethiopia, working together with a single purpose––to help the lost know Christ. I think of the friends we have, and the people we love, the ones who know us well, and have become our Ethiopia family. I am amazed at the mysterious ways of God. His incredible ability to woo you back to the work He has for you––though difficult, not a burden; though challenging, not impossible.
You know, the very last hugs are the hardest. You have to hang on and make it last for the separation that is to come, and for all that will take place before you meet again. But I know it is time to go, and I’m aching for the warm embrace of home.