This month marks a full year since we returned from Cambodia. We stepped off the plane in Dallas, Texas, hurting from the good-byes of over a decade of friendships, unsure of what God wanted us to do next. The pain of the transition was likened to getting whole branches cut off. We walked around with phantom pains from limbs that were no longer there. We wondered how we would fit back into American culture. We ached from the loss of identity and purpose.
Slowly, God revealed our next steps. After five months of living in my parents’ basement, we moved to Worthington, Minnesota, where Vandenn had accepted a job with Love INC (Love In the Name of Christ). As we settled into our new home and into our community, God started to cause new buds of growth. They were small and tender but fragrant with the constant grace that surrounded us.
At a going-away party that my friends had given me before leaving Cambodia, a good friend told me that just like I had developed close friends and community in Phnom Penh, I would do the same thing in this new place. It would take time, but it would happen. It seemed a bit impossible and daunting at the time. As an introvert, I don’t make new friends that easily. I was tired at the thought of starting over. Yet, this is where God wanted me to be–at a place where I had to be wholly dependent upon Him again. So with many tear-filled nights, I cried out to God to bring me friends again, to help me feel at home.
And He has provided. A year later, I can look around me and see the friends that He has brought to me. I feel part of a community again.
(Just two of the wonderful friends that I have been blessed with this year.)
Starting over in a new town, in a “new” country, is never easy. After a year here, though, I can say that God has abundantly provided for us. A few weeks ago we went to the Windsurfing Regatta here in town and kept running into people that we knew. That’s a great feeling. It’s fun to go to Carson’s t-ball games and see familiar faces. I can walk into the grocery store and the cashiers know me and the kids. Walking into church, I feel connected. I love watching my kids run up to friends.
Our hearts still reside in many places across the world. I think that is part of the pleasure and pain of having lived in different places. God has met us in each of those places. Just a couple weeks ago I had the joy of meeting with my closest friend from Cambodia and then my closest friend from Mongolia. This week I will meet with my closest friend from my college days. Just like having more kids expands our hearts in ways beyond comprehension, God expands our hearts to enfold new friends and new experiences. Each one is a precious reminder of His love for us.