Friday, July 7, 2017
It's been almost a month since I left Niger. The conversations that I've had with people since returning have been, for the most part, encouraging. However, when given the opportunity, I find myself struggling to find a balance between rambling and clamming shut. I love talking about my time in Niger, but I also don't want to be the annoying girl from Africa who never shuts up. Please, this is an invitation to ask questions! As I meet and re-meet people in PA, these seem to be the most popular ones so far.Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions:
How long are you home?
When I first went to Niger, people would ask me a similar question, “How long are you here?” At first, I had committed to 2 years, so that was my answer. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the Lord might call me to Niger longer than I had originally planned. In which case, my answer changed to something like this: “I heard once that you should be doing the last thing God told you to do; God called me to Niger, so I will be in Niger until God calls me somewhere else.” I suppose I could say the same is true of my time in Pennsylvania. Until He calls me somewhere else, this is where I’ll be.
Will you go back?
My answer to this question is simple: I don’t know. My plans are completely dependent on the Lord. Am I open to going back to Africa? Definitely. Do I know when that is? No idea. I'd like to keep my options open and right now am planning just one year at a time.
Are you excited to be home?
Here's the thing - now I have two homes. Am I excited to be in my PA home? Of course. The cool weather, the green grass, being with family – it’s all really refreshing. Do I miss my Niger home? Of course. The African rains, the beautiful people, the simplicity of life – I miss it all. Please know that when you ask this question, there is always another side to the coin. I am certainly glad to be home, but experiencing reversed culture shock, rebuilding community, and searching for a job is all a bit exhausting. I had a clear sense of purpose in Niger. I'm hoping to find that here, too. It's just taking awhile.
How was it?
That’s really a loaded question. “It” was difficult, rewarding, overwhelming, peaceful, hard, beautiful, interesting, thought-provoking, dirty, hot, hilarious, unexpected, trying, rich, challenging, growing…. Three years is difficult to summarize in response to such a vague question. Specific questions about teaching, housemates, culture, weather, and people are much more helpful.
Do you miss it?
Yup. It's easy for me right now to just think of all the good things that happened in Niger. But in reality, my time in Niger wasn't perfect. I have to remind myself that even in Niger, I had to take the good and the bad together.
What are your plans?
Find a job. Create community. Be a missionary in PA. Keep doing what God tells me to do. I'm hoping to find an upper elementary classroom teaching job at a local public school. This will be a miracle. Your prayers are appreciated. I am also planning to gain credits toward maintaining my teaching license by potentially taking classes in the area or online.
What foods do you miss?
Nothing much. I did enjoy rice and beans after church every Sunday. But mostly, I cooked for myself.
What foods did you eat first when you came back?
I drank a tall glass of milk.
What do you miss most?
What is the biggest culture shock?
What people choose to value.
Here is a short list of things that are still a bit weird to me about living in Pennsylvania:
1. I feel like I'm in air conditioning all the time.
2. My laundry on the line doesn't dry in 2 hours...it takes about 2 days.
3. I have to drive to get anywhere.
4. We don't save and reuse plastic ziplock bags...or foil...or wrapping paper.
5. I live with my parents.
6. I can wear shorts outside my house or in public and it's normal.
7. Squirrels and chipmunks. I keep thinking they should be lizards.
8. Fast internet.
9. Sunburn. (You avoid the sun in Niger.)
10. There are so many things to do. I feel busy. All the time.