I cannot count the number of times I have sat in front of a blank screen, topics swirling around in the forefront of my mind, each of which, I decide against for one reason or another. The last several weeks, I have been wracking my brain as to what to share on how our transition to working in Congo has been going. I’ve got this hilarious story of the first time we squashed a big cockroach and watched Anna wail with grief, misunderstanding that cockroaches aren’t pets—but it’s too short. Or a slew of stories where we have been scrambling to take in new cultural expectations and failing spectacularly while bartering for furniture, but they’re too intricate to describe concisely.
We are in a strange place that we don’t know how to accurately describe. We decided a while ago that we would not present ourselves as “suffering missionaries” for the sake of intriguing updates but we also don’t want to only show our “highlight reels” as if we have this life totally figured out. Lately in the midst of a predicted challenging season, I’ve continued to hit writers block when I have attempted to get a candid update out while treading carefully to avoid either end of the specturm. Truly, God has blessed us abundantly where we are right now, even if our transition has been…shall we say: overwhelming.
Soon, we will have been in Congo for three months and it’s a challenge to pinpoint just how we view it all. Around this time last year in France, I started feeling a little homesick, but was able to shake it off pretty easily because life there was so different from the life we had in Texas. But strangely enough, here, when we hear deep thunder roll in, and feel the breeze before a big Texas-sized rainstorm starts to pour, I catch my breath longing to be “home.” But then I remember: I am home.
I am finding myself missing things I never thought about before—namely when the bluebonnets start to pop up across wide, well organized highways and tell us all to hurry up and enjoy Texas spring before summer comes. There’s this glorious SHORT window of (slight) warmth and beauty before the trees pollinate and make everyone miserable. I’ve never paid much attention to spring, but here I am in Congo without one, realizing that the beginning of rainy season reminds me of spring showers back home.
Life here is this strange “mélange” (mixture) of familiar, new and breathtakingly beautiful, but also totally frustrating, challenging and out of control. We were elated to receive our shipment last month as it has felt like our settling in process has been on hold for months. As we’ve pulled out tools, books and kitchen utensils that we had back “home”, it’s enabled us to pry apart and repair our fried microwave, read Anna some of her favorite stories and make some of our old staples for dinner. But there is this large running list of little strange or difficult things that remind us of how far from home we really are and how we still have a lot of calibrating to do to thrive here.
We are still getting accustomed to the regular grind where simple errands take a long time and repairing things that break is like a suspended game of whack-a-mole but way less exciting. Everything we do and see has this air of possibility but along with that, some hard reality checks. I don’t know how to answer when someone asks me: “What is life like there?” or “How are you guys liking it?”. The answers to those questions are still forming in my mind as I am trying to sift through the nuance of enjoying that we have made it here, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like we are “making it” here….yet.
I don’t know when we will cross the line of being “settled” here or having a “routine” or feeling at home in Congo but I am encouraged that God is working here and within our family, even when I long for bluebonnets instead of mango trees.
There’s a song I found when we lived in France that was published by CityAlight in 2016—Christ is Mine Forevermore. Within it, the poignant lyrics continuously jump out at me, each time I listen as a reminder of the theme of Christianity and of my walk in this season. Settling into a new place definitely has me feeling like a stranger here. I am thankful for the promise of the peace of Christ as “[He] completes His work in me.” I hope it is as encouraging to you as it has been for me.