Friday, April 13, 2007

Unfamiliar territory

Difficult to put words to the thoughts and emotions that our family is walking through right now...good, sad, anxious, excitement and wonder...

Because we have read books, heard from others who have had similar experiences and received wise counsel, we know the depth of emotion we are presently navigating is normal. This does not diminish what we are feeling but provides insight and understanding into what each one of us can express. I am speaking specifically of Kelly, Randy and Tori right now.

When we arrived in Benin absolutely nothing was familiar. Nothing felt like home. We did not even have a home, nor had one brick been made for the house in which we moved into 9 months after our arrival. There was what seemed to be constant struggle, anxiety and challenge as we learned how to live in Benin, how to function as a family and how to minister and dwell among the Aja people.

By God's grace and to his glory, one day at a time he showed our family how to do it. What was unfamiliar became familiar and even commonplace, a place in which we have lived without fear and with JOY and where we have many friends. Challenges remain and yet we have developed a routine of life here that adapts to meet those challenges instead of being overwhelmed by the tidal waves that seemed to sweep over us in the first years of living here.

The strange thing is that now we face similar anxious thoughts as we enter the unfamiliar life of America. Oh we know the loves and joys of America! We know it is great to be with family and friends, we know it is a great place to buy food and toys....our kids think of Chuck E Cheese, waterparks and rodeos.....But living life...daily....setting up house, buying a car (or 2), sending Tori to school, buying groceries and clothes, dealing with American money, driving around town with 4 small children, saying goodbye to my husband in the morning at 7A and not seeing him again for 10 or 12 hours? These things threaten to overwhelm me when I am thinking of them...and these are just some of my thoughts...Randy has his own thoughts...Tori has her own.

Randy, Tori, and myself have committed to 40 days of prayer concerning our transition.
We have made a list of the things that are most important to the 3 of us and we have been praying together daily about these things. This has been such a precious time with Tori. I thought I was fully in tune with all the things that were on her heart...and yet this week she has trusted me with more...what a gift! We began our 40 days of prayer about these things this past Monday...even since then, we feel a transformation taking from anxiety to a building anticipation of the Lord going before us and working out the details as He sees best for our family. The Lord is Faithful and his ways with us are gentle.

An update on the adoption process: Next week we hope to accomplish the task of obtaining an identity card for Lael. This is required in order for her to obtain a Benin passport. The steps have been clearly defined for us and we will start those steps on Monday with the hope and prayer that we will have this card by Friday! We are also waiting to hear any day now that we have been approved to apply for her immigrant visa. We have been told that we have been given approval PENDING our fingerprint clearance! As soon as we have this we will purchase our tickets for departure. We are making plans now and we are proceeding in faith. As soon as we know something for certain we will post this information.


Kendra said...

Ahh - reading your thoughts are a blessing - I'm crying typing that, but good kind of tears. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your thoughts. I'm so "proud" of all of you - that godly kind of proud where I just want to keep bragging to God, saying, "I see what you are doing in their lives, and aren't you just so pleased with them, too?" I know He is, and I know He has so many blessings waiting in the coming months. Some in the form of heatache and some struggle, and so many in the form of joy and delight. I can't wait to be a part of the process on this side of the ocean. Give sweet Tori a big hug from Aunt K and tell her I'm praying with her, too. I passed by "Sweet and Sassy" yesterday and grinned thinking about our night out on the town last fall! Love you all -

CommentRV said...

What a sweet post, Kelly. Thank you for letting us know what you all are doing to prepare your hearts and minds. You are so wise to include Tori. I think she is definitely thinking about her life in America. Our love and prayers to all of you as you prepare and continue the process of getting Lael's paper work done so you can book those tickets!!!


Missionary's Missionary said...

Transitions are tough. Cross cultural transitions are tougher. Reentry is more difficult than entry. These things are all true and you are right to pray about this. I'll join you in your forty day prayer journey and perhaps some others of us back home can, also. We will be on our knees together I send you my love.

Donny said...

Thanks Kelly for sharing your thoughts and those of your family. I'll be praying for you guys not only for your time BEFORE you get home but once you arrive. This will be an interesting transition but you have lots of family and friends who can love you guys through it together. We are excited about the adoption update. It's getting closer and closer and we give the Lord praise for HIS timing.

Anthony Parker said...

I continue to be amazed and blessed by your intentional, prayerful planning -- and involving Tori is so great.

You'll (re)adjust to America just like you did to Benin -- one day at a time. There will be times of disorientation and confusion, but you'll muddle through and figure it out.

We're in one of those muddled stages right now as we need to do some work on our house. In Togo/Benin, I'd know what to do. Labor is cheap and people are resourceful. But not being very handy myself in a do-it-yourself culture--with hired labor very expensive--it seems hard to even get to first base.

laura said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your heart with us! I am tucking your words away in the corners of my mind and heart to remember years from now when I am walking in your shoes! I have to tell you, at this point in our journey it is really hard to imagine loving this place so much that it causes that torn feeling about going back home. I pray that one day I will understand, I pray that one day I will love this place and these people the way that you have grown to love Africa and the Aja people. Thank you for renewing my hope!

Cheryl said...

I'm marking off the days on my calendar and will lift you guys up as well. What a great surrenderring...
When I am preparing for things (especially BIG things like a move)... I get focussed on MY tasks. MY work. What I need to do...
Bless you, wise ones, as you surrender all those things we can't manage anyway to the One Who Sees All...Knows All.

RD said...

I feel for you guys and what you're going through. We are definitely feeling the reverse culture shock now that we're settled in the States (and that's after just two years away). And I feel for Tori too . . . I returned to the States at age 13 after 5 years of expat living in Asia. It's rough. But your 40 days of prayer with your daughter is such a powerful testimony of your faith in God! Thanks for sharing.

Chapman 6 said...

Kelly, I loved your words and even more so love this example that will be apart of Tori's heart forever. I was feeling anxiety just reading your details about acclimating to your old world, yet when I back out of the details I am excited about the new beginning and Gods plans for you six. Plans beyond imagination.
Count me in 40 days on my knees for what will leave and what will enter your lives over the next year.

I love you guys