Grace packed her suitcases and said her good byes, and we shed a few tears as we drove out to the airport last Thursday. But she missed her flight. Let's just say that the third time is a charm, and this morning Grace is flying home to Arizona. She is headed into a new season which will include college life, independent living and fresh eyes to engage her world. I trust she will return with an African glow as she faces her bright future which begins on the ASU campus. But we already miss her!
Now we shift to a new normal, as we are one man down, as it were. Grace's departure signaled what we all knew to be inevitable - that summer would come to an end and we would soon be packing, planning and pressing toward home ourselves. We are merely weeks away from traveling back, 2 weeks for Ron & Sarah and 3 weeks for the Nikondeha clan.
Now we begin to consider home and what (and who!) we are returning to in Arizona. I am beginning to feel ready for the return. A land where road rules matter, where ice cubes are commonplace in your Diet Coke and you can look forward to ice cream at the end of each day (if you so choose, and I often do!). A place where I understand the culture, the language and the clock is an agreed upon standard for determining time. I confess, I am eager to return to the grocery store, my kitchen and reclaim my cutting boards.
I think one of the first things I want to do is pull out my knives and begin to chop - anything. I miss the rhythm of chopping parsley, mincing garlic, snipping chives, plucking basil leaves for a batch of fresh pesto. Deep breath ( I still have 3 weeks to go...). But seriously, can you imagine a summer without a single batch of pesto? And extra virgin olive oil, fresh ground pepper and Maldon sea salt - oh, that flakey goodness! Yes, I am looking forward to my culinary homecoming, to be sure.
Now I have been blessed with friends who have been avid correspondents while I have been abroad in Africa. In one way, they have not allowed me to feel lonely or out of the loop on life back home. What a luxury to have such faithful friends to walk through this season with me, not letting me out of the reach of their love and laughter. Some have even been doing my chores for me - bringing in my mail, depositing checks in the bank, watering my trees and pruning my plants. What a windfall of extraordinary friends... I have been lavished with love and humbled by their myriad of kindness to me here and at home. But I miss being able to hug my friends, to drop by unannounced with a mocha or meet for a quick lunch (or a long one, honestly). So I am eager to return to friends unmediated by technology... so I will be wanting hugs from all of you when I do get stateside!
So I feel like I am at a pivot point - starting to prepare for home. I am not homesick, as life here in Bujumbura is good. But I will be ready to welcome home when Sept comes. I know I will return to a new normal... and get to discover afresh what my life will be like in this new fall season. I am eager to embrace the newness.
P.S. The first item on my home improvement list: Obama sign in the front yard.