We’re ‘home’. Home in the sense that our accents are understood, I know which potatoes to buy that roast the best, and we’re now only a few hours away from the majority of our family.
Its kinda wonderful. Only it isn’t. I’ve got a headache that won’t go away, and feelings that need processing that I’ve been carrying around for the last year or so, and even though we’re home we still have to go through the newness that comes from being in a new area with new routines, schools and a church to find to make our own.
Instead of festering on some of these things that make my heart ache, I thought I’d try to put into words some of the things we’re going through and give some really practical pointers, so you can get a sense of what it is like for returned missionaries, or even just returned workers. So you can be there for others. And maybe help alleviate someone else’s headache.
Food. We all have to eat, right? And kids love their snacking, right? I mean it’s not just mine whose tummies are ruled by the clock. We flew into Auckland airport close to midnight and I knew our motel for the night was not near a supermarket so I stocked up on some breakfast foods from a kiosk at the airport. Probably the most expensive fruit salad I’ll ever buy. But I didn’t need to fret, because when we opened our room in the motel, there was a basket of goodies waiting for us. Biscuits, treat food, fruit and nuts. This kept us going for a few days and was an amazing help. Put together by my husband’s new boss, this gift basket meant a lot. If you’re looking to do something to help out a family who has just moved internationally, don’t underestimate the power of a chocolate bar.
It is extremely hard to cook out of a semi-stoked pantry, to make meals on the fly that are going to be healthy and yummy for a family with growing kids. It takes time and money, to build up your supply of spices, herbs, and baking basics. We’ve been in our new rental house now for nearly three weeks and I think my kitchen is close to ‘workable’, so you know what I would gift a family moving into my world from another country? A stash of spices. Yep. Silly as it sounds, that’s providing a need right there. And another thing that was a stand out in my memory forever – the day our container of household goods arrived and was unpacked, our dinner was brought to us by a co-worker of my husbands. Amazing. And delicious. And it met a real need. The gift of a premade meal should never ever be underestimated in how powerful that is.
Friendships. They are a weird but glorious thing. I’m super conscious of trying to not step on people’s toes and trying to not be demanding of their time and energy, when I’m really not sure of where I fit into their lives here anymore. We’ve been out of this country for nearly six years now and things change. So all I can do is put it out there, that no my life is not busy, yes our days are wide open, and yes I’d love to see you whenever suits you. That means leaving the ball in other people’s courts and so that does mean we’re having some long and lonely days. On the plus side it means lots of family togetherness time and by golly we were unpacked the day our container arrived, so a shipshape house we do have. We were very fortunate to be invited to a get together a friend organised, with a few families who are already going to our new school. That means in a sea of new faces, there will be a couple of faces that can greet my boys by name when they start. And that means a huge amount to this mothers heart. So if you’re ever in the right time and space to do something similar, for a new family, can I encourage you to do the same? A simple gathering of three families, nothing fancy, but a chance to just hang. And if you’re in the situation where you want to welcome a friend home, but your schedule and commitments, especially over holiday times just don’t allow, then do still text/ message/ call/ email. Unspoken words and unwritten words don’t convey any intentions.
This week my boys start their new school, and for the first time in over twelve years I am going to have time to myself as our littlest one started kindy last week. I’m vacillating between pure joy at having time to think and just be, yet petrified at the thought of having all this time to think. This blog may explode with newly processed thoughts, inspiration and shared experience. But I hope I still have eyes to see, eyes to see others who may be hurting like me, others who may be lonely, others who need to chat. Because, as always, life is better together..and as a newly returned….this is just as consequential as ever.