Tag Archives: repatriation

Used To

I used to know it all.

I used to teach.

I used to read profusely.

I used to watch tv shows.

I used to write.

I used to take pictures.

I used to jog.

I used to converse in Spanish.

I used to be Angiecita.

I used to kiss people.

I used to be a missionary.

I used to live close to close friends.

I used to take buses and taxis.

I used to be warm.

I used to eat Salteñas and good fruit.

I used to suffer in silence.

I used to think the work was enough.

I used to know certainty.

I used to delude myself with auto-sufficiency.

I used to expect, anticipate, and envision.

Now the idea is that I get used to the new. 

Get used to a constant achy lost feeling.

Get used to displaced and misplaced and erased.

Get used to the glance of pity.

Get used to the empty questions.

Get used to cold.

Get used to unspectacular routine.

Get used to uncertainty.

Get used to doubting and second guessing myself.

Get used to BIG.

Get used to TOO MUCH.

Get used to SPEED.

Get used to being loved by family up close.

Get used to the familiar acceptance that wells up when I hear dear ones say Ang’.

Get used to an over-abundance of good.

Get used to polite.

Get used to crying every day.

Get used to hundreds of gifts that furnish our home, fill the kitchen, and clothe us.

Get used to a drive instead of a walk.

Get used to advocating for my soul and well being.

Get used to the default “easy”.

Get used to my cocoon of not-yet and not-anymore.

Before we moved to the States I asked my children to share their greatest fears and their greatest hopes. Had I been in my right mind I would have carefully transcribed that conversation like a dutiful stenographer. I didn’t. Now I trust the Fates to remind me of their thoughts when I need to remember them.

One of the kids said that their greatest fear was that when we got to the States that all that happened in Bolivia these 13 years would disappear, or not matter. I understand that feeling. In all our unsettling settling things look muddled. We feel shaken. Memories mix up with emotion and remembered reality morphs.

We passed the 40 day mark since leaving Bolivia. Six weeks is all; that’s single digits my friends. Gratitude abounds in the midst of the many moods. The goodness God has poured out is undeniable and comforts me.

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Week One in the Big O!

One of the nicknames of my hometown, which I have returned to, is The Big O! (With the exclamation mark, thankyouverymuch.) One whole week has passed since we began our Big New Life in the United States of America. I have come full circle. Getting re-acquainted with the place where DaRonn and I grew up has been fun. Showing the kids around and introducing them to Stateside life has been interesting. Adjusting to the new unspoken expectations has been rough.

We have noted that people in the U.S. compared to people in Bolivia:

Worry about safety a ton more – seat belts, mandatory car insurance, car seats, a disinfection wipes station for the shopping carts at the front of the store, and a very visible presence of well-equipped law enforcement officers all around town, just to name a few.

Have so many more options – huge menus, restaurants everywhere, shops full of shelves full of varieties of every type of thing you could want to buy, channels on tv and on the radio, religious expressions, styles, and employment for a wide range of ages and abilities.

Are SUPER generous with their resources – thrifts shops, homeless shelters, relief aid programs, free stuff on curb-sides and craig’s list, abundance of donations of VERY nice things from perfect strangers, sales and clearance items, and volunteering of their time, not to mention so many gifts of brand new things.

The Midwest is     S…P…R…E…A…D…   O…U…T.

The land sprawls. The ribbon of roads and highways stretch long and wide. The spaces between dwellings feel vast. The immense forests and parks preserved in these borders make me swell with pride.

At first when I began maneuvering in this spread out place I thought of all the space as wasted. My thoughts stopped short. I remembered the reoccurring theme for this season of my life. No, this is not waste, this is healthy. I am regaining the margins which I allowed to be eaten away over time. The corrosion of busy-ness crept in, cramming out breathing room. Reparation begins with the creation of margins.

Margins. Yes, I am letting the margins grow once again.

Margins of time. Margins of space.

Margins for thought. Margins for belief. Margins for health.

Margins to tend my garden. Margins to be still. Margins to breathe.

Margins which allow me to fall in step with the unforced rhythms of grace.

Margins which enable me to be kind, gentle, and faithful.

Margins which suck me down into the plushy, over-sized, purple swivel lounge chair and swallow me up for spontaneous sessions of solace.

the big O

The Big O!

Oh! I had almost forgotten what a livable life looked like.

Oh! There is hope for restoration.

Oh! My God, my Emmanuel, thank you

Removed. 

For a long while I hung my head in shame assuming that God was removing us from our “post” in Bolivia as a punishment for misbehaving. Maybe there is some truth to that, but I think my thinking was skewed. More and more, as I watch this transition unfold, I think He removed us to demonstrate His Goodness and Grace.

This evening I watched my precious nephew wriggle and wrestle and resist the sleep his weary toddler body needed. His mama wrapped him up and rocked and rocked; he finally fell asleep. I smile now as I think about God watching me over the past few years fight and fuss against the rest He knew I needed. Submission to this season came slowly. I am grateful as I look back and see God’s patience with me as He pulled me closer and closer to Him. My, how I pushed against those arms! My, how He rocked my world! Finally I fell…

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Transition Tools

Bell Curve Transitions Chart: based on book by William Bridges describing the stages of the grief of transitions, the emotions accompanying those stages, and how we can process those emotions effectively to move through the transition to a new beginning
Bell Curve Transitions Chart: based on book by William Bridges describing the stages of the grief of transitions, the emotions accompanying those stages, and how we can process those emotions effectively to move through the transition to a new beginning

Since we started moving in the direction of moving I started moving towards resources to help with the move. More specifically, I started to gather aids to help our family with this impending Time of Transition.

One thing I have learned from being on the team of A Life Overseas is to not take the resilience of the children for granted. Third Culture Kids need to be given the gift of vocabulary to be able to communicate as they process their transient life. They need to know where they belong and how they fit; and it is our privilege as parents to guide their eyes to the truth of who they are.

I have also picked up on the fact that transition is inescapable in life. We can choose to be intentional about the work it is doing in our lives, or we can ignore it and become emotionally constipated and bitter. The emotional ups and downs and sideways and backwards and loop-do-loops that everyone in our family is experiencing all at once must be validated.

Funny thing, too, I have discovered that we are not the only ones doing this kind of thing. Tons of others have been-there-done-that and tons more are right here in-the-thick thickness of it all. Following is a list of some of the things we are using to help us through this transition. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comment box. Also, following the list I have included a very special request about a “dream tool” I would like to add to our Transition Tool Box.

Twenty Transition Tools to Try:

1. Counselor via Skype

2. Book – –  Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, by: William Bridges

3. Book – –  As Soon as I Fell: A Memoir, by: Kay Bruner

4. Velvet Ashes Article – – I Have Listened to Your Stories, by: Melissa Chaplin

5. A Life Overseas archive – – Third Culture Kid

6. YouTube: Canadian lady, Robin Pascoe on Repatriation

7. Video from a French lady, Anne Gillme: “7 Tragic Mistakes Families Make When Moving Abroad

8. Email subscription through the website of the French lady: Expatriate Connection

9. REAL LIFE PEOPLE: Geographically close people who I can be intimately authentic with

10. REAL LIFE PEOPLE: I call, skype with, email, facebook chat, etc. who I can also pour myself out to without fear of rejection

11. Journal – – A magical awakening of my spirit stirs to life as my hand makes the shapes of letters, words, and phrases. As my ears hear the slight scrape of the pencil on the page the crusty, dry encasement of my soul scrapes away to reveal a clarity not known before the slow quieting of writing.

12. Reading aloud to my children – – I read a portion from a book or a new article I have found about transition, third culture kids, etc. aloud and then we talk about it. I ask leading questions to get them to voice what is going on inside of them. This has also built a beautiful trust within the siblings.

13. Charts around the house – – Like the image above

14. Lists – – I make some kind of list or chart every day for all kinds of things. Allowing myself to go a little overboard with the list making as we go through this transition has been soothing and helpful.

15. Crying, Laughing, Shouting, Sleeping, Watching Shows, Saying the Hard Things… living in the moment. For most of my life I shunned emotions. This has been a huge point of growth for me to value emotions, and not be scared of any of them. Attentive to my emotion at the moment I allow it to be expressed in a healthy manner, then I move on.

16. Coffee

17. Enneagram study- – This is an ancient tool aiding in self awareness and appreciation for the diversity in the people around us

18. Travel – – If I don’t have a trip to look forward to I can become stir crazy; I know this about myself. To keep sane I plan trips.

19. Exercise – – I jog

20. Nails – – Self-care is the catch phrase I hear often as I educate myself about transition. Getting my nails done is a tiny bit of that. Every time I see my cute nails I am reminded that it is good and necessary to take measures to care for myself.

Dream Tool:

Almost every missionary who has been through a similar transition speaks of debriefing. Most recommend this one in Colorado called MTI. Here is what a friend had to say:

“…the program at MTI is just wonderful for the kids. That is one of the reasons we went there rather than somewhere else. Just wanted to let you know, too, that the debriefing program is not actually counseling. They will recommend counseling afterwards if they think you need it but they don’t do counseling. It’s really just a place to share your story and process what you have been through. The most valuable part for us was being with others who were sharing their stories and realizing that even though locations and circumstances were different, we were all going through the same processes and we were not alone! Just normalizing our experiences was so beneficial. The program at MTI is also just one week.”

Here’s the thing folks, and I am just being real here, the week for our family would cost thousands of dollars. Oftentimes when a missionary is connected to an organization these kind of services are provided. As independent missionaries in a bit of a money bind this idea sounds unreachable to me. But I want so much for our family to being able to do this! Can you pray with me? Should God desire for us to attend a debriefing I trust that He will provide for it. Thanks friends.

Join the Facebook group a friend started for us if you would like to help with practical needs as we set up our new home:

Welcome Back Washingtons

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Life is Hard

helen keller quote

We tried really hard to be good missionaries in Bolivia. For thirteen years we tried so very hard. It started even before that when in my youth the passion for mission life burned in my heart. DaRonn and I met as teenagers and found commonality of desire for ministry, for setting out to change the world, for making our lives count for something. We rushed our young family off to a foreign land with such a sense of urgency.

Missionary life has many hardships. It’s hard to wrangle the tongue and make it make new sounds. It’s hard to ask people for money all the time. It’s hard to live amongst socioeconomic extremes whilst examining our own lifestyle choices. It’s hard being away from the comfort and acceptance of family. It’s hard reminding ourselves of why we are struggling with sickness in our bodies and maladies of the soul. It’s hard being misunderstood, judged, and criticized by those we are serving as well as those who are supposed to be on our team. It’s hard weighing the sacrifices we require of ourselves, our kids, and our family back home for perfect strangers. It’s hard when perfect strangers become dear friends and true family then we have to say goodbye.

We gladly assumed those hardships for the sake of the mission. We viewed the discomforts as necessary in order to win the lost. We pushed and pulled, we strove and struggled, we gave everything we had and took only loads of responsibility. We overextended ourselves. And then we broke.

Now we are leaving Bolivia worn down physically, mentally, and emotionally. Our finances are suffering. Our family is in need of restoration. Life got way too hard.

If things are hard it is because we care about something. The hardship is indication of a set of values. The definition of our standards determine how hard (or not hard) something is going to be. Indifference about the outcome makes it not so hard because we would not give it any effort.

Sometimes hardship or hard times are imposed upon us. The desired outcome differs from the present reality. If the hardship came, and we didn’t care about what happened as a result, then that thing would not be hard because we would not be putting forth any effort towards changing that reality.

When things just kept getting harder and harder I began to ask some hard questions:

Is this hardship a necessary part of reaching what is hoped for? Do we know for certain what we hope for? Do we know for certain that the hard parts in our life correlate with that hope? What do I need to do differently?

Those kind of questions led to an overhaul of our lives. Granted, not all missionary careers follow the pattern ours took. Our unique path led us face to face with some realities we know need to change.

The ability to voice our values is helpful because then we can determine if the effort is worth it. We can look at what we seem to care about so deeply that is requiring this great force of effort from us and we can decide if this is actually where we want to put our energies. We assign worth to the outcome thus justifying the effort required of us to reach that place.

If we don’t think it is worth it, we’re not going to work for it.

If we do think it is worth it, we will work for it, we’ll assign creative energy towards it, and we will suffer hardship for it.

We determined that a clearer definition of our hopes is needed. Our efforts need to align more closely with our hopes. We need to set aside one set of hardships (the ones that don’t match our hopes) and take up a different set of hardships (ones that will carry us to our hopes).

We began in Bolivia with the greatest intentions. Over the years we have done amazing, wonderful, and fabulous things that have altered eternity, I am sure of it. The adventure of it all has been spectacular. Somewhere along the way, though, we chipped away too much, compromised, and became crippled.

Life is hard. We’ve heard that saying so many times. But why is it hard? Because we care. And because we care we will put forth hard efforts.

It’s hard to break destructive habits like overeating, smoking, laziness, etc. But the hardship is worth the efforts expended to attain a healthier lifestyle. It’s hard to acquire the relationship skills to overcome harmful patterns such as anger, blame, victim mentality, etc. But the end goal of a more peaceful existence with society gives us the motivation to do the hard work to learn a new way of relating to people. It’s hard to admit when things are not working and then start the even harder process of finding out why, what to do about it, and where to find help.

This decision to move our family to Omaha, Nebraska in the United States was reached after more than a year of deliberation. It is a hard, hard, hard choice. The implementation of this change is proving to be one of the hardest things we have ever done in our lives.

My Hopes:

  • I hope this move will remove some of the pressing obligations so that we can find a more livable rhythm
  • I hope this move will allow us to see more clearly where we want to invest ourselves
  • I hope we can find some healing of body and soul since there are more resources readily available in the States
  • I hope to be able to give our kids some really great opportunities, and that they will be able to connect with their heritage
  • I hope that we are not so far gone that this is “too little, too late”, that things can be better

One thing has been made clear through this all: we cannot do this alone!

Please join the facebook group a dear friend set up for us: Welcome Back Washingtons

There will be updates of practical needs you can help us with. I am so grateful that already a group of people has gathered around us to help us with this transition.

Please keep praying for us and for Bolivia.

Peace.

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