New Things on the Horizon
Part Three of "Two Years Ago Our World Changed"
The summer of 2021 came and went without much fuss here in the States. Indonesia, however, suffered a covid onslaught following the Idul Fitri* celebrations. At one point, a pastor in one of the largest cities on Java reported more than 200 people dying each day. This pastor joined a special “Covid Burial Squad” that would pick up corpses from people’s homes in the middle of the night and bury them with dignity despite the fear and social stigma of having a family member die from a covid infection.
Note: Culturally speaking, Idul Fitri (the feasting and celebration following the one-month Ramadan fast) is similar to Thanksgiving and Christmas in the U.S. It’s time when people travel home to see family and spend the holidays together. Despite travel restrictions, the cultural pressure to travel out of town and visit family and friends during this time of year is credited with this massive surge of covid cases and death during the summer and fall of 2021.
Back in Idaho, we knew that we could not continue to live 30 days out as we had been doing for the past year. We needed some family stability, so our son enrolled in a small local high school while our daughter continued to study online. We also found a home where we could stay for as long as needed.
Our son experienced his first high school football game and tried out for (and made) the varsity basketball team. Our daughter joined the quizzing team at the local church we were attending and won an award as a top quizzer in her first meet. And the little one began piano lessons and performed in two recitals!
Tamara continued serving as the Nazarene Missions International (NMI) coordinator for the five countries on our field and helped organize a regional NMI webinar that was well attended across Asia and the Pacific.
I continued teaching online at our Nazarene theological college and worked hard on rewriting and revamping our field’s ministry education program and curriculum. At the same time, I began singing and playing guitar on the worship team at our local church while also having the opportunity to conduct a four-week “Outreach and Discipleship Training” seminar.
Lots of “new” on the horizon
As parents, we are supposed to raise our children in such a way as to prepare them for life outside of our home, beyond the “nest” that has guarded them and protected them as children. As they become young adults, the impending change in the relationship between parents and children begins to become more and more real.
My daughter is going to leave for college in a few months.
I think she is ready…but I am quite sure that I am not.
I’ve talked to enough parents to know that we all have regrets, things wish we could have done better, some decisions we wish we would have made, and others we wish we would not have made. Not only that, but over the past two years, we have had to mourn the loss of many high school experiences that never were — two seasons of soccer, school plays, junior banquet, senior trip, and more.
I’d like to have another year with her — an average, typical year of high school and all that goes along with that. That’s not in the cards, though, so we move forward. All that has happened over these past two years is part of her story, and she has grown through it all.
Our son, meanwhile, got his driver’s license and started his first job on the same day!
Social Experiment #1 — What does a teenage boy do when, for the first time in his life, he has more money in his bank account than he has ever had before?
And finally, as her sister goes off to college later this year and her brother gears up for his senior year, the little one is SO EXCITED for her opportunity to start kindergarten. Little does she know or understand how her world will change over the next couple of years as both of her “best friends” leave for college and new opportunities.
Again, I’m hopeful that my children will be ready for these new things…but this is not going to be easy. I want to hold on for a little longer, but I know that I cannot. They need to fly on their own. And they will.
The long-awaited return
This past Friday our Qatar Airways flight touched down in Jakarta following a sub-30-hour journey (our shortest ever) from Boise to Seattle to Doha to Jakarta. A few weeks before, Indonesia had fully opened, quarantines were dropped, and we received the visa paperwork we needed.
Returning after two years was surreal — we once again noticed how crazy the traffic is, how narrow the roads are, and how hot and humid the air is. It was very familiar, and yet new again, all at the same time.
The following night, our daughter attended her senior class party, which made us so happy after she had missed out on so many experiences with her friends and classmates. Our son has been playing basketball with his friends almost every day. And the little one keeps asking, “Are we finally in Indonesia now?” and “Why are there lizards on the walls?”
Those are happy lizards…they eat all the bugs that we don’t like.
Our neighbor, who had just given birth to their first child right before we left, is now ready to give birth again next month. The morning call to prayer seemed louder than normal after not hearing it for so long. The sounds, smells, and sights that were so commonplace to us are once again being noticed…and appreciated.
There is more newness on our horizon, but for now, we want to take a few moments to be thankful, remember, and enjoy.
This is Part Three of a series called “Two Years of Uncertainty."
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