Our transition continues and all in all things are going pretty well. Adalynn started school at Sunset Elementary here in Craig with 20 other classmates and is doing really well. Her transition to school in a class where she would be the youngest student was probably our biggest concern after choosing to move back to Craig. She has settled into the rhythm of the class and has not had any problems keeping up in her school work. Cora and Jack weren’t able to get into school this late in the year but they are able to attend a preschool program one morning a week at church while Tracey has a women’s bible study and a great child-care situation for the days Tracey works. Cora went to a kindergarten welcome night and is excited to start at Sunset in the fall. Jack can’t wait to start Preschool in the fall either at his sisters’ school or at my work, that also has a preschool.
I have started my job and am figuring out the world of school finance. We have a great superintendent that has been great to work with so far and all of my co-workers are helping with my transition. They have held onto certain aspects of my job that they took on when there was no finance director and are handing them back over to me as I am ready instead of just dumping them on me in my first weeks on the job.
Tracey just started working at the family practice clinic run by our local hospital. It is a real answer to prayer for her to be working in a place where she is known and wanted and where she can work part time and still be home when Adalynn gets home from school.
One of the most fun parts of our return has been watching our kids love skiing as much as we did. We had the last day of the season last week and for the first time the kids skied from the top of the mountain to the bottom. They get excited about going and it such a joy to do it as a family. I never knew I would have so much fun making laps on green runs, but those laps were more fun this year than the runs I was able to do when skiing the “big stuff.”
There are tough days for Tracey and me as with any transition away from the field. We call these days re-entry days and just try to support each other while we work through it. One minute we love being back here and what it affords and the next we long to be back serving on the ship or somewhere else. One minute we feel guilty about getting to move back into our house and think we should just stay in our little rental that has been such a blessing for us in this transition time. The next minute the house we own isn’t good enough and we desire to get into something bigger that might fit our family better. One minute we are having a good time making runs with our kids at a ski resort and the next questioning the purchase of a dresser from a thrift store. On one hand I am dealing with a 20 million dollar school district budget where there just isn’t enough money to go around and the next I am thinking of the schools that we worked with in Africa that were supported for less than 10,000 a year. The list goes on and on. It is such a crazy thing to work through.
When we were at our debriefing course last month, our facilitators place two ducks on a table for us to see. One was shiny and new, basically out of the box. The other was drawn on and scratched up and well worn.
They told us this was our pair of ducks and would be facing us for the entirety of the week. They did this because the transition back is full of paradoxes (get it pair of ducks, paradox). Our facilitators who did 10+ years in the Philippines with their children wanted us to know that we would be dealing with these paradoxes for the foreseeable future. Our time with Mercy Ships was an amazing time that has forever changed who we are and how we see the world. What we learned and will continue to need to remember is that it is okay to live in this tension. None of the things we are wrestling with are wrong in and of themselves. We just have competing view points from our life experiences and the worlds that we know.
We met some wonderful people at our debriefing course and it was an amazing experience that involved lots of laughter and tears as we all worked through this process together. The kids bonded with other kids who where there and enjoyed the kid-friendly debriefing program. One family lives in Colorado Springs now after 15 years in Morocco and we hope to spend more time with them in the future. Another family with two teenage daughters, home on furlough before heading back to Zambia, was also part of the group and they brought great laughter to our group and we hope that we are able to visit them in Zambia at some point. There were also two ladies who were retiring after teaching and working in South America for a long time. So our group covered the gambit of different re-entry scenarios but we all commiserated in what we were experiencing and that was by far the best part of that week. There is camaraderie in shared experience that we so desperately needed after our return.
Our small group
Those ducks and that camaraderie were great for us as we settle into life in Craig. We know that there will be ups and downs, but we know that our Father loves us for who we are and not what we do. It’s okay for us not to do for a while we work through these tensions and adjustments. We will continue to live lives that, hopefully, honor our Father and just follow the path that is before us, a path with a pair of ducks to remind of us what we have been a part of and what is still to come.