I attended a week-long debriefing in Colorado last week. I was really excited and anxious to attend but it was soooo worth it. I really picked out two or three things that touched me most. Two or three things that I learned that I will share with you over the next week or so. I hope you can relate.

Relating. That was certainly a highlight of the week. I was surrounded by people who relate to my experience of the past two years because they have been living something simliar in various places around the world. Several have even been in Nairobi off and on which was fun (one gal wore her Java House t-shirt once!).

I didin’t realize how important it is to celebrate and comissurate with fellow missionaries. What a gift.

To help you understand why this important, let me share a few stories with you.

I ws on the road back to KS talking with a dear friend who has adopted and recently moved into a new neighborhood. As I was explaining this sense of relief at not having to choose my words or think of the right ones at all, she immediately understood. She feels the same way. Her new neighborhood is filled with families who have also adopted and there are things that they just ‘get.’ Because these families have adopted they have a similar experience and can better relate on some levels.

Another example is that whilst at the debriefing I was talking to a gal who was going to be driving with her family home to IN via I70 through KS. We were talking about where they might stay and she mentioned Salina, pronouncing it Sah-lee-nah. I offered her the correct pronounciation and she laughed saying “Thanks! I don’t want to offend the nationals!” We continued our conversation a moment before she corrected herself, “Not nationals, I mean locals!” We thought it was pretty funny as neither had realize she had used the ‘wrong’ term. No one looked at us funny. No one made fun of us for using the wrong term. No one rolled their eyes as we tried to think of the correct term or mentioned our host country ‘one more time.’

Africa was my host country and it was my world for two years. It is my perspective on all that happened in that time. Just as when I lived in MN for four years and that was my perspective, I often pull on that experience when in conversation. I am not trying too show off or be weird. Africa was just my world and it only makes sense to me to incorporate that into my life now. I cannot eliminate it and I shouldn’t have to try.

So if you see me in town with some mail and I say I’m heading to the ‘posta’ for stamps or I can’t think of a word and say ‘nini’ instead of perhaps ‘thingy’ or maybe even say ‘sawa sawa’ instead of ‘alright’ or ‘ok’ please cut me some slack. Feel free to ask me about it or just ignore it as a part of who I am now. But please don’t harass me. It hurts my feelings and makes me feel like the last two years of my life are invalidated and should be forgotten.

I have no desire to spend the rest of my life living sequestered with other missionaries or people who have lived internationally. I love my family and friends and desire to be near them, in dialogue with them, on new adventures with them and sharing past adventures with them. However, there will always be something special about getting together with my fellow missionaries. I hope you all understand.