We have been in the US for about three weeks now and it has been a whirlwind of activity. Hannah started working full-time at AMDG Architects as an administrative assistant just a few days after our return; Noah entered the Summer Academy of Calvin College one week after our return; and I just returned from a week in Canada, visiting four different cities, three of which were work related: a conference in Chatham, a visit with a partner church in Hamilton, and two days of meetings in Barrie; I then spent a few days in Georgetown with my Mom and siblings, celebrating her 75th birthday. My time in North America is not one of rest and relaxation, but a time for connecting with my North American partners and sponsoring churches to continue the partnerships and opportunities for mutual transformation on both sides of the ocean. This Friday I leave for Washington State to visit another church and then I will have a few days for a silent retreat. During that time I will be seeking God's will for me as it relates to where I go after my three years contract for Ghana is completed next June, 2012.
While the time has been very busy thus far, one of the things that I have noted is the unwinding of the pretty constant knot that is in my stomach while in West Africa. I have become quite used to the knot and didn't even notice that I had it until last week when I was driving to the Partners Worldwide office and suddenly noticed it was gone. The knot is there because of the pretty constant state of unknown or unexpected frustrations that can happen on a daily basis in Africa. The tension of living in a foreign land, in a foreign culture, where things often don't go according to plan or in a timely manner does take its toll and so I am enjoying a more relaxed state for the time-being.
Additionally, having an extended time here (as opposed to rushing in and out over a period of one or two weeks) allows me to relax in my home church as well. I quickly reacquainted the carpet at the front of the sanctuary with my tears - it has received many of my tears over the past twenty or so years. I believe this time will be a time of continued healing and grieving for me - I've cried more in the last few weeks than in the last few months, which is good - again, I think it's because I am able to let down my guard. Unfortunately, I don't have very many Sundays off from speaking at various churches, but I'll take what I can get.
Last week I was able to see my father for the first time in two years - I hadn't seen him since leaving for Ghana in June 2009. He is 81 years old with either frontal lobe dementia or Alzheimers, and entered a nursing home in October of last year, in Brampton, Ontario. He didn't recognize me although he seemed to know I was someone from his family. It was a great delight to see him and spend time with him, with several poignant and touching moments. One of those moments was when I was showing some pictures from a photo book we had made for him. It had a picture of Bob and I in the center and Hannah and Noah on either side of us. My Mom reminded my Dad that Bob had died, and Dad then made the comment, pointing to my picture, "that woman is a widow." I told him that the woman was me and that my husband had passed away. He put the book down, took both of my hands in his, and with tears in his eyes told me how sorry he was. Even though I don't know if he knew that I was his daughter at the time he said that, it was so touching for me to hear those words from my dad.
I remain in regular contact with my colleagues in West Africa who continue the hard work through the rainy season. Noah has my camera right now at Calvin College, so no pictures this week. Sorry!