I realize that my blogging has been a bit scarce lately as we have been spending the holidays in the States visiting family and getting a little vacation from El Salvador. We spent a week and a half in the Baltimore area with my family, and we are now beginning to wrap up a week and a half in Pittsburgh visiting friends and family here.
This whole experience of being “home” has been a very strange one for our family. This is the first time we have been back to the States since we moved to El Salvador and I know that we will need to get used to living among worlds, but it’s been strange nonetheless.
A few little observations of “reverse culture shock” have been noticed. For one thing, when we stepped off the plane in Houston Tori could not get over how “fancy” the airport was…and you could flush the toilet paper in the public restroom…and the public sinks had hot water! She was very impressed! At a shopping trip to Target in MD I made a complete fool of myself forgetting all about auto-swipe credit card machines and using crosswalks! Jon handed a Best Buy employee his Salvadoran residency card and kept answering everyone with “sí” and “gracias”…woops!
We also have had a bit of stomach sickness, as the U.S. is now the “foreign” culture where the food is all very different, very fatty, and very processed! I think we’ve all gained about 10 pounds each eating all our favorite American snacks too! It also has been strange to not see guys with machine guns in front of every store, restaurant, and neighborhood entrance. It also has been a bit chilly, but we’ve gotten to see some beautiful snow!
We have had tons of fun visiting with friends, family, and our home church support system. We’ve really missed these relationships over the past year and a half. The kids have loved reconnecting with cousins and old friends, and a trip to the Carnegie Science Center was way above anything Disney World could possibly offer in their books!
The strangest thing of all for me has been how strange I have felt. I feel like an “outsider” and Jon and the kids do too. But we are still outsiders in El Salvador as well. So where is home? Honestly, it’s in America and it’s in El Salvador right now. Yet we don’t quite belong in either place.
The past fourteen months has changed us irreversibly. Driving along the interstate we passed many suburban neighborhoods built along the sides of the highway. It was so odd to look in it on those safe, clean streets and remember that was our life not so long ago. But I don’t know if I could ever go back there. I don’t think I could go back to the place where comfort and safety and “bigger and better” were my goals. Things have changed.
We are so grateful for the time that we have had. We have been encouraged, and cheered on, and refreshed. But now we are ready to return to the home that God has called us to. We are ready to get back to work in El Salvador with renewed focus, renewed vision, and renewed energy.
Thank you for your blog. Your honesty is refreshing and causes me to think. Since you were in El Salvador for 14 months before returning to the States for a visit, you had really become used to living in another culture. With our frequent returns to the States, I don’t think we have become so immersed. Ian always finds it harder to return to the States than I do. Interesting…
I think you answered your own question: Home IS where God’s call is – you know where you belong! Which is more than a lot of people can say.
But please do keep coming here on furloughs so you can keep the rest of us reminded of just how strange it is that we have all we do. It’s easy to get lulled into comfort.
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