Well we have officially finished our time of deputation in the States and are now back home in Belize. It has been both wonderful and exhausting. We had the chance to visit so many different family members, see old friends, and visit churches across the country as we crisscrossed the States. I think I was very ready to come to the U.S. when we arrived in June. After Austin was born I became very aware of how far away family live and I was really looking forward to spending some quality time together while we were on deputation. It really was amazing to get to stay with so many different family members and friends. I think Austin did a fantastic job meeting new people! Thank you to all of you who prayed for us in our travels. I think Austin could either have ended up extra clingy and fussy with so much time in the car (and getting passed to countless new people), or he could have ended up being a very relaxed and happy baby—he’s the latter. God has blessed us with a happy, chill, and social baby. While he still is not a fan of his car seat, he did an amazing job with a constantly changing routine. We will truly miss everyone we got to see in the States and we can’t wait until the next time we meet again!
On the flip side though, we were very ready to go home to Belize. Although we posted so many fun pictures of places we’d gotten to visit, family days, or time with friends, what we couldn’t share were the thousands of miles on the road driving (over 17,000 miles), the hotel rooms, living out of suitcases, lugging around a computer to work from each place we stopped at … it was exhausting. We made sure to make time for family outings and fun breaks (the majority of our pictures), but we were also working a lot (the majority of our time). I think deputation (our “Home Ministry Assignment” stateside) was a good chance to take a step back from ministry on the ground (in our case Belize), to spend time in our home culture, and get a better perspective on our ministry. When we left Belize in June, I think both David and I were pretty burned out and our time in the States was a good refreshment and encouragement that prepared us ready and excited to return to ministry in Belize.
So now we’re back and there is this sort of a “Now What?” feeling. Our time in the States was the longest I’ve ever been away from home traveling. And then you add an infant to the equation to get 5 ½ months of ever changing routines and locations. To finally be in one place—our place—for a large chunk of time is a strange adjustment. Not only am I readjusting to my house, but I’m figuring out what our life will look like here with Austin. We left Belize when he was 2 ½ months old, so we still hadn’t completely figured out a routine with him. Now we’re back and he has a nap schedule, he’s sleeping in his nursery for the first time upstairs (while we sleep downstairs), I’ve made him lots of baby food (that he currently hates) that I’m storing in the freezer, and I’m figuring out what my own schedule looks like (in regards to music ministry) with Austin. As a whole there is just a lot to adjust to. It’s exciting to finally be able to really see what our lives will look like here as a family!
But there is also a lot to adjust to just by being back in Belize. I don’t think I had really anticipated culture shock coming back; after all, this is where I live. I figured we would step back in our house and it would finally feel like I had returned home after months of travel. It really surprised me that this was not the case. Belize (and even my house) feel both very familiar and incredibly foreign. I think people often forget that for missionaries, sometimes nowhere really feels like home … at least at times. My “home” is here in Belize (my house, life, family, work) and my “home” is also in the States (my culture, extended family, close friends). This means that both—and neither—are “home.” When you’re in one, part of you always misses the other. And while I wouldn’t trade it for the world (I love being a missionary!), I’m acutely aware of that particular feeling, both in the States and now that we’re back in Belize. I think it’s always there in the background, but it always surprises me when it suddenly becomes obvious again. It’ll become an afterthought again here in a few weeks, but until then I get to ponder some of the strange things that come with being a missionary.
I’ve finished unpacking (which is pretty good for me since I normally just continue living out of the suitcases until they naturally empty … oops), and now we start preparing for Christmas. And what better way to prepare for Christmas than to really lean into Advent? We decided to make the Daily Office the center of our Advent as a family. While David and I have done the Daily Office together often since getting married, we’ve also found that our schedules differ enough that lots of times we just do it alone. But we’ve decided that we want that specific time of devotion to be a daily family routine. David is even teaching me how to chant the service! (I’ll get back to you on how that goes … hehe).
David has jumped right back into ministry here as well: St. Andrew’s Day and the First Sunday in Advent fell the next day after we got back. It was pretty special to be home for that Sunday, and David loved getting to celebrate the Eucharist again after months of being away! So, while on one hand we have hit the ground running, on the other we are just now getting to discover our life here as a family.
I’m sure there will be plenty more to tell you all here pretty soon, after all this is one of the busiest times in any church (and there are sure to be interesting shenanigans to come with Austin), and we have some serious financial needs looming now that we have returned from deputation. But for now I’ll leave you with this “short” update. I just wanted to let you guys know, “We’re back!” and to thank you again for all of your support, especially since we were away for so long. Please continue to keep us in your prayers and we’ll keep you in ours! Happy Advent!