Part 6 of "Two Years of Uncertainty"
“Home is the nicest word there is.”
—Laura Ingalls Wilder
I’ve been back in the States for just over a week now.
Home, but not necessarily because of my geographic location; instead, because this is where my family is. We have always told our children that home was wherever we were together. So, for now, we are together, but even that is quickly going to begin changing.
It’s been nearly six weeks since I last posted. I did not intend to take such an extended break, but in the midst of packing and goodbyes, the mental energy required to write well was…well…lacking.
Even now, as I stare at this screen, there don’t seem to be words adequate to express all that I have felt and experienced. As such, this article will be more like a bullet-pointed journal entry containing several “random” thoughts that have stuck with me over the past few weeks.
Packing our crate
“Settling into a new country is like getting used to a new pair of shoes. At first they pinch a little, but you like the way they look, so you carry on. The longer you have them, the more comfortable they become. Until one day without realizing it you reach a glorious plateau. Wearing those shoes is like wearing no shoes at all. The more scuffed they get, the more you love them and the more you can't imagine life without them.”
― Tahir Shah, In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams
After Tamara and the kids returned to the States, I spent most of my time cleaning up our house and packing a crate of essential items to bring back to the States — books, clothes, Indonesian household items and collectibles, and our favorite piece of furniture (a large carved wooden cabinet).
It’s tough to leave behind that favorite pair of shoes, worn as they may be.
We are grateful to our church for allowing us the blessing of bringing a few things back with us. All of our remaining possessions were given away or sold. What a relief it was the day the men arrived to load up our boxes onto a truck headed for Jakarta and then onto a boat headed for the States.
Let’s hope everything arrives in one piece…or thirty-two!
Here, there, and everywhere…our purpose is the same
On my final two Sundays in the country, I was able to preach twice more. What a great blessing! I’m not, however, going to miss being completely drenched by the end of a sermon!
Well…that was quite the goodbye!
I was initially scheduled to leave Indonesia on July 5, and then I found out there was a pastors and spouses retreat scheduled for July 5-7. Again, I was blessed to be able to change my ticket by a few days, allowing me to take advantage of this opportunity to see many people I would not have otherwise had time or opportunity to see before my departure.
On the last day, each of the 12 zones of the Java-Bali District had the opportunity to share memories and say “goodbye.” The East Java District, where our family spent six years, took the opportunity to a whole new level — click here to take a look (hint: you might see me trying to dance).
A couple of days following this retreat, one of my pastor friends posted this on his YouTube channel—
Thirty-six hours before my final departure from the nation that first became my home away from home more than twenty-five years ago—and the place that has been our home for the past seventeen years—I was physically and emotionally exhausted.
I was done…but not sure I was ready to be done.
A friend I first met in 1997, when he was a 17-year-old university student, picked me up and took me to his new home in the foothills of Mount Merbabu, where I spent my final night. We got up the next morning, went to the 7 a.m. church service, ate breakfast at our favorite local diner, then went home to shower and get ready to go to the airport.
The long journey home
Semarang to Jakarta — 1 hour — no problems.
Good thing I purchased that extra baggage weight.
Jakarta to Doha — 8 hours — no problems.
Goodbye Indonesia…until we meet again.
Doha to Seattle — 14 hours — arrived 30 minutes late.
It’s incredible how much easier it is to rest on an airplane when one has no children to keep an eye on.
The connection in Seattle was tight, so the late arrival, combined with a 45-minute wait for my luggage, resulted in missing my flight to Boise.
At the last minute, and after some (mostly) friendly wrangling with Alaskan Airlines customer service (I did apologize for being a little short with them — 40 hours of travel will do that to a person), I was able to get a seat on the next flight out of Seattle.
Seattle to Boise — 1.5 hours — no snacks, but I’m too tired to care.
My brother picked me up, we ate at Freddy’s (I was craving a good hamburger) where we ran into a former missionary colleague, and then home, where my family was waiting.
So thankful. So blessed. So tired.
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”
― Maya Angelou, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer
I am thankful to be back in the States with my family and for the opportunities, this next season of life will provide.
I am thankful for the years that Indonesia has been a part of my life. These years have shaped and formed me in ways both known and unknown to me.
I am not the same person I was before Indonesia. I sometimes wonder if my time in Indonesia was as much about shaping and forming me into increasing Christlikeness as anything I did for others throughout the years.
It was probably a little bit of both.