I feel a bit like a turtle that is afraid to peep out from under it's shell. I will for a moment.
Most of all, I'm overwhelmed. By some of the simple things--
the speed of travel. no pot holes and even paved roads means smooth and fast driving. it's bewildering.
the choices. I knew I would struggle in grocery stores. The grocery store here is probably 50 times bigger than ours back home. I will admit to having panic attacks when I first had to go in them a month ago. I found choosing a cereal an almost impossible task. Once, I had to have my friend choose my peanut butter. One of our recent shopping trips, we were befuddled by the orange juice choices, "some pulp, no pulp, lots of pulp". I don't know the last time I considered how much pulp I wanted in my orange juice. I will also admit that two days ago when I attempted my first real shopping trip alone with Natalie and a big list, that I almost sat down in the international food section and cried because I recognized the food labels and I knew exactly what I wanted right away. I ended up buying bottled coke and ceres juice and I was so happy. Natalie walked around a bit stunned by the whole trip asking me, "where does all this food come from Mommy, how does it get here, who makes all this food, why is there so much food, and what is this and that and this and that?".
There there are the bigger things---
water. We have so much water. I don't even know how much I am using. If I was still home in Bukavu right now, where it is dry season and where the water from the city has dried up, I would be using water from jerry cans that we had to send cars and people out to find in the city. I would be rationing the water. I would be watching children wandering around with jerry cans at all hours. I would struggle knowing that I have in abundance what most of my neighbors lack with severity. Here, it's easier. And that makes it harder too. I'm not reminded. I turn on my faucet, and water issues forth. There I would be lifting very heavy jerry cans to wash my hands and be reminded that children carry these long distances to be used by large families if they are lucky enough to find water with which to fill them.
I would remember.
I am grateful and I also struggle to find my way.
health. Ellie was sick with a fever for 3 days. I took her to a doctor. It wasn't just me for once. There wasn't the old anxiety or stress. There wasn't a fear of the unknown. I knew that she would get the best care she could possibly get here. I remember other days. Other fears. Other nights.
electricity. all the time. full strength. It's amazing how much full strength lighting can lift one's sprits.
sanitation, schooling, roads, and on and on
public works. Today we went and got library cards. We checked out books. We wandered around a bit awestruck by the public library. Wow. Then we left the building and there were fire trucks in the street. The parking garage we had parked our car in had a car on fire in it! There were fire trucks! And they put the fire out. (The car was two cars away from ours!).
I love doing laundry. I love it. I look for laundry all day. I can't wait to do a load.
Natalie misses Laurent. She has told me this many times.
Life used to be simpler.
There is so much I don't know.
Mike has been on two bike rides already and has been on many walks. We couldn't do this in Bukavu.
Farmers markets are so much less exciting here. I miss the markets of Bukavu.
There are some people that completely inspire me. Like the woman who I am privileged to call my friend, that started this organization.
I miss being surrounded by congolese. I miss the warmth of brown.
The other day I spoke in my botched french for an hour in the car when the kids were sleeping as we drove north, speaking of all that I missed.
Natalie is already forgetting french.
We shipped 27 trunks to the states 2 months ago. For some strange reason, 3 of those trunks ended up at our friend's house in Germany!
Isla told me the other day she wanted to go home. And not this home.
I am so tired of packing and unpacking.
Colorado debriefing time was very good and also very hard.
Having it be light until 9:30 p.m. was really really hard to get used to; the kids were as bewildered by it as much as us grown ups.
I have been humbled and blessed by the countless family and friends that have loved us, helped us, called us, spent time with us, gone out of their way to visit us, lifted boxes for us, packed late at night with us, helped us in airports, carried countless heavy suitcases for us, encouraged us along this crazy trip with calls, notes, emails, had patience with us, hugged us, welcomed us home, driven us, blessed us, given to us, and generally welcomed us back. Helped us realize we aren't so alone and we are going to be okay.
My mom and cousin, who arrived in Bukavu over a month ago now (thinking they were going to stay with us for 2 days and then fly us to the states), who had to stay with us in Bukavu for 2 weeks unexpectedly, and who then flew the 27 hours with us (with 16 pieces of luggage, 3 roller carry ons, 5 back packs, 3 car seats, and 4 kids four years old and under), will forever be our heroes. And I am so glad that I don't have to do that trip again (with all the kids and the luggage that is anyway!).
And then, there are the children that I love and miss so much already. There is a deep ache in my heart.
I am grateful, but I'm also struggling to find my way.
I will be continuing to write about Tumaini, Kaziba, and our life in Bukavu in the days ahead. Please check back, there is work to be done and stories to tell.
I have been so humbled by all the folks who have come forward to partner with us up at the orphanage. This sweet fun loving boy still needs a sponsor, his name is Shereba, he'll be four in September. If you are interested in sponsoring him, please follow the link here to our website, or the link above. Thank you.