Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Life Surrounded

Our kids munched on cookies that the restaurant clerks gave them in the Indonesian airport during the last layover. One more flight to go before reaching our Indonesian home. Camera phones surrounded them, clicking in their faces.

Exhausted after two days of travel and 23 hours on various airplanes, I watched for signs of frustration in my tired kids as the six employees took turns holding them. But they smiled and crunched and laughed, enjoying the attention, the playmates, the free snacks, the chance to move around.

After that last hour of flight onto our small island of Tarakan, I strapped on our bags and our kids, ready to get home. Over the span of 20 minutes as we waited for luggage, several Indonesian friends—also there either working or picking up relatives—approached us.

Dragging behind bags and several invitations—both specific and vague—to meet soon with our friends, I climbed into the car, tired, but surrounded by friendships.

The houses and trees and trash closed in, surrounding us, as we pulled onto our street. How, after just one month away, could I forget how narrow these streets are?

The heat enveloped me as I baked the pizza my friend kindly made. I certainly hadn’t forgotten how the air blankets me here. But that dirt clinging pretty much everywhere had become invisible to me. That is, until I spent a month away.

The next day, my early-morning wake up, thanks to jet lag, prepared me for my attack to unpack the stuffed bags. Purchases made in stores overflowing with choices soon tucked away into my house. It should feel good—having chocolate chips and clothes that don’t smell—yet. Being surrounded by new things.

But the loss of leaving family, of leaving beautiful Colorado, of leaving an easier life pressed in.

Shouting filled my house and I jumped, searching for the men behind the yelling that sounded like it was in my living room. Nope—they’re the soldiers who routinely march and chant cadences past my house.

Oh, yeah. Everything is loud here. Sounds—rooster crows, trucks rumbling up the street, horns honking—permeate my house, penetrating the peace.

How did I do it before?

How did I remember not to drink the water in the faucet? How did I cook everything from scratch? How did I drive without hitting all those motorcycles? How did I function with life surrounding me so fully, so unavoidably?

Renea’s curls—back in full force with the humidity—surrounded her smile as she pushed her stroller filled with dolls and toys and purses she hadn’t seen in a month. Brad pointed it out, too, and we shared a laugh at her cuteness.

“Make sure you take it slow today,” he said next. “Give yourself time to adjust.”

How does he do that? How does he read my heart and know just what to say, when to say it?

I absorbed his words and my kids’ giggling and the colors from the flowers blooming like crazy outside. Life here surrounded me.

And I let myself live the loss and the gain, the annoyances and the things I enjoy, the people in need and the people who shower love on us, the fatigue from living in the tropics and the energy from getting to serve.

photo credit, Nono Faro

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