Monday, June 20, 2016

Home to Home

Two weeks ago today, I arrived back in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The past 14 days since my arrival have been quite full - full of friends, family, celebrations, road trips, and more.

I left Niger on June 6th at 2:30am.  It was an uneventful trip across the ocean.  I was thankful for the other travelers from Niger who kept me company the first half of my journey.  And I was extremely grateful for my welcoming committee, including my niece, Ellie Jane!  Tears of relief and joy overwhelmed me as my family embraced me.

It's difficult to describe the emotions of leaving such a large part of your life.  And even though I know I'm returning for another school year, there were a lot of goodbyes that were final since there are many who won't be there when I return to Niger at the end of July.  But the night of my departure added some closure, as about 20 friends wished me well by taking me out to dinner at a favorite local restaurant.  And because my housemates and neighbor are awesome, they stayed up with me playing card games and eating chocolate fondue by candle light since the power was out, just to stay up long enough to take me to the airport.

My time back in the US has been equally as pleasant and meaningful as that night.  I spent a day catching up with my "little" brother by going to the Outlets for some shopping.  The long drive to Grove City was just what my weary eyes needed - white clouds against blue skies, and lots of green!  And of course, we stopped to play at the toy store shaped like a giant space ship, because you're never to old to play with toys.  I spent that evening watching Chad play softball and snuggling with Ellie Jane.

This past week, I was in Michigan catching up with good friends.  My roommate in college hosted me for a few restful days.  I enjoyed some wonderful conversations with her and her dad about his experience growing up in the Ivory Coast.  We laughed and reminisced about life in West Africa.  I am so grateful for that time to be understood.  I truly enjoyed getting to know the Gould family and wished it could have lasted longer.

My next Michigan stop was in Freeland, a beautiful suburb of Saginaw.  I was warmly greeted by Abby and her beautiful family.  I can't express enough gratitude for the things that fed my soul that weekend - steak on the grill, roasted marshmallows over the fire, late night chats, horses, fields, sunsets, and friends.  The entire wedding weekend was absolutely gorgeous.  What a privilege to stand beside such a wonderful friend as she married her man.  Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Morris!

And finally, I'm home again.  Ready to think about and debrief in my heart and mind the things that have happened these past two years.  I am excited to remember the things the Lord has done and to pray for the things that He will do.  God is good all the time.