Tomorrow morning, we are leaving our home in El Salvador and traveling to California, our former home. For the kids it has been almost two years since they have been back. We are all packed and ready to physically go. For the past few months we have talked a lot about what it means to travel back to California and leave El Salvador, which has become our home. The kids have said things like, “we are so excited to go back to our old life.” We have gently reminded them that their old life is gone. Nothing is the same. They/we are not the same people as we were when we left two years ago and California and all the people we know and love there have also changed and grown. So much has happened in two years and we are so excited about that.
We recognized that there was some grief for them/us and that they needed to process the realization of change in their lives. The reality began to hit when we talked about how we did not have a house to call our own in California anymore. We were coming to visit not to stay. El Salvador has become a place where we love living. We have a rich community here and we know this is where God has us. There is a freedom in knowing that we belong here. We feel confident in our surroundings and sharing our lives in ministry and with the people around us. We will miss it dearly while we are gone.
The past few days we have been talking as a family about how it may feel to return to California. We want you to understand that coming back to California as visitors is completely different for us. There is a culture shock that John Mark and I have experienced when we have had some brief returns and we want to be sensitive to Rebekah and Caleb returning to U.S. culture. With that in mind there are a couple of things that we would like to ask that would help the kids tremendously while we are there. First, although they can understand a lot of Spanish, and can speak it some, they have asked for a break from language boot camp for the summer. They are looking forward to hanging out with friends in their first language. If they initiate in Spanish, go for it, and if not, please let them off the hook. Second, although California has been our family’s home for most of the kids’ lives, we have worked hard to encourage them to feel as though El Salvador is the place we call home and California is the place where our family and friends live. It is a place we all look back on fondly and look forward to visiting, but at this point are time in El Salvador is home. The term “home” can be a confusing word for our kids at times because they want both places to be their “home.” It would be great for them to here that you are glad to see them or that you have missed them. This won’t always be the case but it is for today.
We are taking some deep breathes tonight as we get ready to settle into the next 24 hours as we travel back to California. Then for the next two months we will be visiting with supporters and having some time of refreshment with family and friends so that we can ready ourselves for the next two years of ministry in El Salvador. With the joy of seeing our loved ones again there is also a sorrow in leaving the ones we love here. We are whole hearty embracing these next 8 weeks of California sunshine and the English speaking culture but please understand if we seem a little different. 🙂
To learn more about our time in California click here.