As we stepped out into the terminal, my eyes began to search the crowd for our friends, Earl and Julie Dean, who were to pick us up. Although we were arriving at 3 a.m., there didn’t appear to be any reluctance on their part to come and get us at the airport that early in the morning. Being that this was our first furlough, we were all anxiously awaiting this return ‘home’. As I searched the faces of the people in the crowd, I quickly realized that there was no one there to greet us. I then noticed that there weren’t any friends or family greeting the other passengers either. This was just one of the changes that had been implemented in airport security since 9/11. No more greetings taking place at the gates. We made our way quickly to baggage claim, anticipating the welcome of our dear friends, the Deans.
Finding the Deans waiting in the baggage claim area was such a relief, and represented to us the culmination of our first term in Brazil. We felt as if we had arrived at our destination, in more ways than one.
As global workers, we have come to see our life as synonymous with change. My husband and I had thought that coming back to the US would be like coming ‘home’ to all that is familiar. And yet, returning after an absence of four years, we have slowly come to realize that there really is very little that is familiar to us (except, of course, McDonalds, which seems to pass the test of time). Our home church has grown, our friends’ families have grown, our pastor has aged, and the dynamics in our extended families have changed. These changes might seem small to most, but to us they were magnified by our inability to ‘fit in’ anywhere.
It has now been three months since we stepped off that plane. The change from the Latin lifestyle to the fast paced American life has affected us in different ways. When I reflect back on these past three months, I recognize that we have been through somewhat of a physical, emotional, and spiritual roller coaster. I know that it is His grace, moment by moment, which has carried us through the transition between the seemingly different world that we came from, to this world of the United States. We know also that it is His grace that has given us a new joy as we look ahead to the next four months, and begin to anticipate our next term in Brazil.
Our prayer is that as these months of furlough draw to a close, we may return to the field refreshed and renewed, with a joy in our hearts that only Jesus can give!