What do you call those little clips from your favorite show that catch you up quickly on important plot developments? They might be annoying to some, but useful to others. The reason you missed our plot developments from the past 4 months has been that we didn't write them down. We were too busy living them. But I will give you the "previously on..." sequence to catch up those who like it.
Seeing that my last post was the kids' Back-to-School pictures...
Anna had a great beginning to Kindergarten and is much more comfortable with addition facts and reading these days. James is doing great with 4th grade Calvert. This is his first year with a correspondence teacher, transcript and grades, so there is more accountability to get least favorite subjects finished well. He went from a few painful sentences to writing a 3-paragraph essay on his own. He continues his grain-free, allergen-free diet and is doing well. Joel used to think of Spelling like pulling teeth. No. Fun. He is kinesthetic and Spelling is visual. These days he is acing Grade 2 Spelling thanks to All About Spelling - which emphasizes letter magnets on a white board (Check it out if you are looking for kinesthetic-friendly options.) Just ask him if he likes school. He will say, "Y-E-S!"
At the end of September, I had the pleasure and joy of co-teaching a workshop for Congolese Literacy Experts and Translators to become checkers for publication. I had previously been the only certified checker in our organization and it was wonderful to pass the baton to so many. Lots more detail about this in our next newsletter! Our 4 years in Congo was quickly coming to an end and we wanted to make the most of it.
In October, we started soaking up all the things we loved most about our home in Congo. We played more with our doggies. We ate more pineapple. Kim sang more often in choir. We spent more time with friends. We took one last week off in Uganda and started bringing out our luggage for "the move". We were blessed with the mamas choir deigning to sing and pray over our living room. Part of me wanted to videotape everything, but the greater part of me just wanted to relish in the goodnesses God had given. I didn't want to miss a minute behind a camera (or on a blog...?).
November started out mundane enough, if anything is ever mundane in Congo. It brought the selling of our household items, packing and storing of others. Arranging for the absence between our departure and the arrival of a new family to live in our house. We scheduled my last Ladies' Bible study, Thanksgiving with friends and the kids' Fall Music Recital for the second-to-last week in November, but they were never meant to be. The town erupted in unrest Tuesday that altered everything about our last moments in our home. Most of our expat friends evacuated with their children. Our last chances for goodbyes were gone before we knew what happened. God kept us safe. Perfectly safe in a bubble of peace passing all understanding, but it wasn't easy. You will hear more about this one day when we are ready to write about it. We joke now that our 4-year-term ended with a bang. :)
We spent the first half of December visiting supporters in France where we studied, and where our Joel came on the scene, in 2003-4. We walked off the plane with a mountain of luggage, no coats or socks and only sandals for shoes. It snowed 2 feet that night. We felt like displaced Africans. We found warm clothes eventually. And enjoyed warm fellowship. We ate our fill of fabulous cheese and chocolate. We made it to the grand ole USofA and back to Gramma's house for Christmas. It was lovely. And COLD.
We quickly moved all our earthly belongings (except for the 2 boxes we forgot at Gramma's house and the 4 barrels we kept in Congo that is...) into the same furlough house in Oregon we had in 2002 and 2007. Some of the upgrades we left behind were still there! After 6 days of frantic unpacking and repacking, we left for a ministry retreat in California. Here we had time to breathe. Time to think again. Time to grieve the home and life we knew in Congo. Time to realize which country we came from. Reverse culture shock is always a bit overwhelming. It comes in waves when you expect to understand someone or something. But you don't anymore. It has changed. Or you have changed. Lots can change in 4 years...
So we are "home"!
We are just not "at home" yet.