I’m so sorry for not getting a post up before today. Let’s pretend that 21 days have not passed since the last time I wrote. So much has happened! I wrote the following post last week but wasn’t able to add the photos and get it up before some big things happened that had me setting aside blogging to focus on family. While we were in Kenya, it was discovered that my dear, sweet, little niece, Malena, has a mass in her brain. The day before we left Africa, she had surgery at a large children’s hospital in Minneapolis to biopsy the tumor in the hopes of discovering what it was. Just after writing the following paragraphs, my sister called to ask if I could pick the two of them up from the hospital and bring them home. I gladly did just that, but ended up staying longer than I had anticipated so the doctors could do further testing. I am happy… THRILLED really…to share that the mass is not cancerous. Praise the Lord. Miss Malena is having a few symptoms from the mass pushing on different parts of her brain, which is how they first decided to do an MRI, so more visits to the hospital and lots of observations are on the horizon. Please pray with us that all the symptoms (an intense desire to drink liquids constantly, decreased metabolism, increased urination, and dangerously low sodium levels) will be relieved and that my sister and her girls can leave this behind them. I’ll be sure to post updates as they happen. In the meantime, you can click here to follow Malena’s Caring Bridge page. Thank you!!
|such a ladies man|
|someone swiped Uncle Jake’s glasses!|
|be still my heart. i love this boy.|
Oh, my dear friends, we made it home. I’ve wanted to write so many times since we arrived last Thursday night, but either little ones needed attention or I just didn’t have the energy. Now I sit alone at a coffee shop, surrounded by freshly fallen snow and the tunes of Jack Johnson floating through the air. I need this. Simple things that I enjoy, so that I can ease back into this Minnesotan life. I’m taking my time, desperate to hold onto every ounce of Kenya that might still exist here. A crushed package of biscuits in the bottom of my bag. A tea bag to make one more cup of chai.
The journey from Kenya to Duluth went fairly well, beginning last Wednesday night at 6pm and ending at 4pm the next afternoon. A lotta time changes. A lotta snacks. A lotta movies. And yes, for a time, a lotta sleep. The kids snoozed practically the entire eight hours from Nairobi to Amsterdam. That meant cheery playtime at the very cool little inside playground forest at the airport there while Mama and Daddy chatted with new friends from Jordan and sipped a latte from Starbucks. (My man sure knows how to treat this girlie.) At one point I wandered through the airport and ended up buying one of the only magazines of interest printed in English. As it turned out, it was the most expensive magazine I’ve ever bought. Fifteen dollars for this baby. (I didn’t know that until after it was purchased, though. Thanks, Euro.) Worth it? Paired with my Starbucks and happily occupied children flying between Amsterdam and Minneapolis, it wasn’t even a question. Yes. So worth it.
Am I painting a picture of a blissful flight? Perhaps, but that’s only because I’m choosing to forget the stress of keeping a three-year-old busy for that long while she begs to make multiple trips to the bathroom (because she thinks it’s cool) and the incessant interruptions during my attempt to watch a single movie. Six hours to watch Argo? Yes, it is possible. No joke. But that’s all a part of the experience.
|playing on the playground inside the Amsterdam airport. coolest little area.|
The first thing I realized when we arrived at our cozy, blue house was that it is a truly beautiful place. It is clean and bright, full of color and memories. After getting the kids to bed, I walked through its rooms, touching decorative jars and hardcover books, staring at framed photos and catching my breath at the sight of a perfect mantle decorated with carefully selected nicknacks and such. I don’t know how many times I walked into the kitchen Friday morning, just to catch another glimpse of the sun lighting the bright, clean walls and little pieces I placed along the windowsill months before without much thought. I couldn’t help but smile at their simplicity and beauty. I felt so moved that I slowly walked through the house while the kids slept off the jet lag, hoping to capture the feelings of those first moments of being home in a space we had created. It was lovely.
We have slowly let ourselves acclimate to this life again. First it was a trip to the grocery store. Then I wandered alone into Target. Everyone was waiting for me in the car, so I didn’t have much time to get overwhelmed by everything, which was probably best. This morning was the hardest, so far. I took Ella back to preschool. I had no idea it would be so hard. It was as though this simple act was admitting to the fact that we’ve returned to “normal” life. I didn’t want to say goodbye when I dropped her off. I felt the need to make sure everything was perfect for her and then to stay with her to explain to the other kids that we had been in a very different place and that Ella had seen incredible things and that her first day back might be hard because she was adjusting. Instead, she ran to her room, tossing a “bye, Mom!” over her shoulder so she could play with her friends. How I wish I could continue as easily as that.
|off to school|
I’ll admit that I cried just a little in the car after that. My Kenya was slipping away beneath the falling snow. I begged Jesus to let the feelings stay. I want the memories to feel new. I want my heart to be all in one place. But just as I wrote over a year ago about why my heart isn’t all here, I now know exactly where my heart is and how it felt to have it be whole. Duluth is my home, and so is Africa.