I've done this thing before - re-entry - twice after trips to Africa and once after a trip to India. But this time was very different. For one - I was gone twice as long as I've ever been out of the country. And the other big difference is - this time I'm married! I didn't come home to my family waiting at the airport, or my roommates (who'd kept things going while I was gone) - Rusty and I came home to a house that had been empty and life that had been at a standstill.
100 days of being gone means a lot of messes to clean up. Our cars had been sitting un-used through the Michigan winter, and mine had to go to the shop for $240 worth of repairs before it would work again. Then when we got it back, we had to take Rusty's car for repairs. We had a collection agency calling us for some bill from 2009 (turns out it was a big mistake made by a very unprofessional hospital.... but still it was QUITE the hassle!) There are bills to be paid everywhere we turn, and the cost of living is much higher than it was in Thailand. Here in Michigan, the cheap gas is $4.29 a gallon! And did I mention we were dealing with all this in rainy, miserable 39 degree weather? *sigh.
It would be easy to be grumpy and have a bad attitude right now. It would be easy to see all the "negatives" and wish we were back in the gorgeous sunshine of Thailand - laughing with our friends and living the exciting life of a world traveler.
- BUT -
The truth is, in spite of these bills and mini-disasters here, we are surrounded by BLESSINGS! Re-entry may be difficult, but it also gives you a brand new perspective on the details of your life that were once just common place. I'd forgotten how much I love our little rental home, with all it's big windows letting in tons of gorgeous natural light.... and the way sunsets look from our bay window. I'd forgotten how many beautiful things we have in our home.... items that may not be worth much but that are OURS - photographs, paintings, and keepsakes- and how they hold so many happy memories. I'd forgotten how it feels to be in a place where I picked out the curtains and the bedding and the home decor, and how it makes my living space peaceful and personal.
I never realized how comfortable our (very old) pillowtop mattress felt, until I slept on a corn husk mattress full of bed bugs. I'd forgotten what a blessing it was to be able to drink water right out of the tap, and to know it is clean and safe. I didn't understand what a treat it was to have a cell phone I could call my family on anytime of the day (instead of being 12 hours off with the time difference in Thailand). I forgot what it was like to have flowers and bunnies and bluebirds in my back yard, instead of a Burmese squatter camp out my apartment window.
These are little things, it's true....but we are finding ourselves overwhelmed with gratitude because of them!
Yes - it will still take a little while before we are fully re-adjusted. We still have to remind ourselves not to speak Thai.... not to drive on the left side of the road (or get in the car on the wrong side).... not to take off our shoes outside the door.... and that we can flush our toilet paper instead of having to throw it away. It still seems odd to be in a grocery store that is familiar, with ENGLISH labels on everything, and to have a refrigerator full of our favorite foods.
And I know the sadness is going to hit us - when we begin to be "homesick" for Thailand and it really sets in that we cannot see the children, or our partners there, or do any of the things we loved. But for now - we are just reveling in the little blessings, and trying to take every opportunity to thank God for the wonderful things He has given us! It's amazing how a change of perspective can improve your life!
What have you remembered to be thankful for lately?