Week 2 Transitions

It's been two weeks since we landed in the USA.

That moment I'm walking into a store and suddenly wondering which country and state I'm in.

A whirlwind of events and experiences have been transpiring. We feel exhilarated, thankful to be with family and friends, and very much like we are in a fog.

Transition is learning to be thankful where one is, in the moment. Appreciating past experiences, letting go of what was, keeping the connection alive with happy memories and momentos; learning to live in a different place, which often, at least initially feels like alien territory.

Kirsten opened a bank account last week and we were laughing about being certified aliens, she and I both have an "Alien Registration Certificate" card from the Philippines!

It's a good reminder that this world is not our home, our true home awaits us in our Abba's Kingdom.

In transition, we each embark on a journey of grief and joy, loss and hope, sorrow and rebirth.

There is joy in the journey as Michael Card sings. I thank God He is journeying Kirsten and I on this journey, much like many of the overseas foreign workers of the Philippines experience; gratitude for new opportunities, sadness missing those left behind. Skype and email are so refreshing in the ability to stay in contact with those half a world away.

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey....

Another transitional quote I agree with is this:

"I've come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call "The Physics of The Quest" - a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: "If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared - most of all - to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself... then truth will not be withheld from you." Elizabeth Gilbert

We miss our family in Davao. We are thankful for friends and family here.

Kirsten is working on learning to drive.

I love not be hot and sweaty all the time. I have more energy now that I'm out from under the blanket of heat and humidity.

...and so, our adventure begins...

Thoughts in Transition - part 1

One of our favourite movies is "We Bought A Zoo" and I've taken the title of this blog from a line we quote often, "...and so, our adventure begins."

A while ago I blogged about grace in the wilderness as my daughter and I transition to the USA. I thought I'd do something a bit brave and daring, different, and share some of my journal reflections reflecting this grace in the wilderness.

Transition times are messy, filled with griefs and joys. And especially for my daughter who has left her home of the past ten years the griefs are significant, yet the hope and excitement are just as high.

TCKdefinition

The transition out of high school and into either college or the work force is difficult for everyone. Even students raised in the US find themselves facing new challenges and undergoing major life changes during this period. But TCKs will be facing another monumental transition: that of reentering into American culture after leaving their home on the field. All of these changes can be overwhelming for students and parents alike. (tckinternational dot com)

So, here, from my journal over the past few days are a few selected thoughts for you all!

Day ? After 30+ hours of travel and transfers, switching 12 time zones, long flights with pleasant flight attendants, babies crying, friendly seat mates, blessings along the travel, it's hard to know which day of transition this is. I guess it's technically day 3 by the calendar. Travel started August 8. We landed 12 time zones later on August 9 but my body clock, being 12 hours ahead of the landing time zone states loud and clear it is August 10. So now the sleepy days to transition my body clock starts.

When I first moved to the Philippines in 2006 one of the first things that struck me was how noisy it is. The second thing that struck me was how dirty and run-down many things are.

Ten year later, upon arriving in the USA yesterday one of the first things that struck me was how quiet it is. The second thing that I noticed was how clean and kept-up everything is.

The airports we transitioned through outside of the Philippines also, very quiet. The USA one we landed at was eerily quiet for its large size. Hmmmm. I miss the noise!

This trip feels hard to me. And for my daughter, she is leaving her home. She's been here 10 years. The song, Lord on High, from Les Miserable, plays through my mind with lyrics to the current situation...

     Lord on High, hear my prayer, in my need, You have always been there.
     She is young, she's afraid, let her rest, Heaven-blessed.

     Bring her home, grant her friends, lead our course as this journey begins.
     Bring her peace, bring her joy, she is young....
     oh Dad, grant her peace, grant her hope, grant us safety on this journey we take...
     Daddy, hear my prayer, grant her peace...

Emotions are screaming in my body, missing my family left....over India....heart sad...boredom of flight. Crying baby, crying heart. Yet, excitement. Looking forward to helping K adjust to life in the USA, adventures, reconnecting with home church, friends, family....Daddy, on High, bring us all home to Michigan safely......

In USA: I awaken with anxiety sitting on my chest, a feeling of impending doom and opportunity. The toilet tissue and nose tissues feel so rich, thick, soft. I feel wasteful using them.

I have to watch lines now and not crowd. A couple times in the airport I failed to notice the “stop until called” signs for immigration and customs. One customs person was not happy with me for crossing the line before she called me. That is a Philippine habit I'll need to be aware of – lines, personal space.

Prices - $2.49 (about 150p) for a bottle of water....$4.40 (about 240p) for a cup of coffee....whoa......

That moment when I start brushing my teeth and wonder if the water is safe to use. Then the thought, "wait, I'm in Houston at my sister's and she has safe water."

This transition feels hopefully hard, do-able, teary, joyous, a great exercise in remaining flexible, adaptable, teachable....*

And so, our adventure has begun. We are thankful for a retreat/rest time with family in Texas - time to conquer jetlag, do some sight-see, enjoy time with an aunt/sister...

We are praising our Heavenly Dad from whom all blessings flow. If this blog feels scattered to you, it's intentional. Transition and jetlag are scattering events, hard to fathom coherently! Thanks for reading!

Eating Balut

Kirsten and her friend, Joy, wanted to try eating balut before they both leave the Philippines. Balut is a Philippine street vendor food.

A balut (spelled standardized as balot) is a developing bird embryo (usually a duck or chicken) that is boiled and eaten from the shell. It originates and is commonly sold as street-food in the Philippines. They are common food in countries in Southeast Asia. The Tagalog and Malay word balut means "wrapped".

The length of incubation before the egg is cooked is a matter of local preference, but generally ranges between 14 and 21 days.

Jeff_explaining_balut

Our friend, Jeff, loves balut. He took the girls to get some and then brought them back to our house to explain about and eat the balut!

inside_balut

Kirsten_trying_balut

Kirsten_Joy_enjoying_balut

The verdict was it tastes like a hard-boiled egg and chicken broth. Just don't look to closely at the baby duck in the egg!!!

Grace in the Wilderness

Transition, TCKs, OFWs

Kirsten and I leave the Philippines soon to journey to the USA. I can't say we are moving "home" because "home" isn't one place for us any more. Kirsten will settle into the USA, I'll be flying between "homes" for a while.

airplane

Part of the truth of third-culture-kids (TCKs) is that their heart home is most likely not their passport country, and family can be spread over continents. The Internet, Skype, and international cell phones makes conversation and staying in touch a bit easier but also can pull at heart-strings, making conversations bittersweet.

"Often the TCK lives with a sense of being "in the middle." Some years ago a college student named Ruth Goring wrote an essay entitled "I Am Green." She said that she was neither the "blue" culture of her passport county nor the "yellow" culture of the host country. She was somehow a mix of the two.

There are other people who find themselves caught in a crack between passport and host countries. They are touched by both and identify with both, yet without a sense of being owned or owning either one.

In either case, TCKs often find they are at home everywhere and nowhere, all at the same time. Home may always be elsewhere, and a sense of rootedness at any point of geography may be unknown. One learns to adjust, survive, and succeed, but the sense of "place" is elusive." (Raising Resilient TCKs. Editor, Joyce Bowers)

Kirsten is taking a 'gap-year-in-reverse' as she and I are calling it. Most students take a gap year to live abroad, help in missions, explore career opportunities; Kirsten's gap year will consist of learning her passport country culture and ways, exploring colleges and career options, learning to drive, visiting relatives and friends, working part time, etc.

It's all a bit weird, this season of our lives.

It feels a bit like a wilderness to me.

Your_plan_Gods_plan

Words fail to describe the "halo-halo" (mix-mix) of emotion and pulling family needs.

We are a bit like the many overseas foreign workers (OFWs) that leave the Philippines to work elsewhere. Part of the family stays in the Philippines while a member or two travel abroad to work.

No matter where any of us are, though, there is a calm in my heart that my Abba ordains my ways and the ways of each of us in this family (Psalm 16:11). He is caring and guiding and leading. As Jeremiah says in chapter 31, we find grace in the wilderness (v. 2), and we rest in His love and faithfulness (v. 3).

Part of that grace is exemplified in the niches God provides each of us: Mikayla is teaching English part-time at Faith International. She is gaining practical skills to accompany her dual-degree in upper education (middle school - high school) and English. Ben is in high school and on sports teams. He excels in the sciences, maths, and athletics. James is schooling at home under Mikayla's tutelage as well as taking specials at FIA in art, music, and PE. He will also soon start flute lessons, an instrument he's been wanting to play for several years now. Kurt is providing much-needed software to maternity clinics that serve the poor. His work is fulfilling to him and to those served. All graces from our loving Abba.

Soon, Kirsten and I will board a plane to the USA. Kirsten has no plans to return to the Philippines as she transitions forward to college and life in her passport country. I'll be returning to the Philippines in about 5 months and then return to the USA late April 2017 to finish my masters degree "if the Lord wills"....(James 4:13-15)

All is well to rest in His grace that He provides. He tenderly exudes His everlasting love in the variety of ways He leads, in the seasons He leads each of us through. It truly is grace. And as His child, I give Him thanks in all things (1 Thess. 5:18).

Lead on, O King eternal;
we follow, not with fears,
for gladness breaks like morning
where'er your face appears.
Your cross is lifted o'er us,
we journey in its light;
the crown awaits the conquest;
lead on, O God of might.

Ben is 15

Today, August 3rd, marks Ben's 15th birthday!

We've been teasing him that the school gave him a present by starting school on his birthday! He didn't really like that 'gift' from them!

Bens_first_day_school_and_Birthday

We made up for that by having his favorite, fried chicken, for supper, along with cake and ice cream.

Ben is a blessing and I pray he continues to grow in wisdom and grace, a man after God's own heart.