Is being far from family. I encourage you to remember that as you encourage your friends or own family members to work in another land. Although the exchange is incredible, a new culture, a new world to explore, new language, new EVERYTHING...there is what I felt the biggest challenge of them all...being apart from family. Everyone survives, and creates a family in the field they are in, but everyone we know serving in another land could always use a little extra prayer and encouragement when it comes to missing family events and holidays.
I didn't realize this until I left the country. About 6 months later my brother got married. I missed the wedding, and cried almost every day the week before. Technically he got married the year before I left, but his "wedding" was 6 months after I arrived in Tanzania. Long story. Regardless, I missed one of the biggest events of his life.
I missed a LOT of family events in the last two years, and each of them were difficult. This weekend I remembered how awesome it is to just get to "be" together.
About a month ago I called Matt (my brother) to ask what he was thinking about for Mother's Day and although he didn't really know what to do for Mother's day, he had an AWESOME idea. You see, my dad was coming to Texas to help my brother remodel his kitchen. My dad's birthday also happens to be at the end of May. The AWESOME idea: I fly out to Texas as well and surprise dad.
Shockingly, we pulled it off. Dad arrived Wednesday night, and I arrived Thursday around lunch time to a very shocked father. Within half an hour I had my "work clothes" on too, and my dad, brother, sister in law and I were working away. It was awesome to step back tonight, and see a kitchen with all new cabinets, new drywall, paint, light fixtures and window coverings. It was even more awesome to sit there with my dad, stepmom (who showed up friday), brother and sister in law (and nephew in utero) and take it in together. I wanted to bottle up the moment and save it forever...in case I would one day have to be in a land where I couldn't be at family events so easily.
The last two years being away were difficult, I missed family, but at the same time, they made me realize how much more I need to treasure these opportunities to be together, I never really made a priority to be with family before Tanzania.
It's good to be home. I thank God for the opportunity to spend with family.