May 26, 2015

When There is No Light at the End of the Tunnel {and You Just Want Your Fat Pants}

Tanzania is home.
It's been home in our hearts for 3 years, and in reality for about 2 years.
We love it here.  Really.  We love the culture, the weather, the people, the life... all of it.  We don't always like the bugs or the dust or the way things work (or... don't), but this is home.
This. Is. Home.
I've been saying that over and over and I truly feel it.  When we were in the States on furlough last summer, we were pretty much ready to come back after about 2 weeks.  People would ask us if we were enjoying being back in the states and our response was almost always, "Yes, but we're ready to get back to the normalcy of home."
We were so glad to get back here, too.  To sleep in our own beds, to get back into the routines of life in Moshi, to catch up on what had happened since our departure. It was glorious.
But what we didn't realize at the time, is how much that tiny pinhole of a light makes a difference. 

That pinhole that is the light at the end of the tunnel.  Furlough dates. Our first year here we came on a round-trip ticket, we had to take a furlough once school was out.  We had a light at the end of the tunnel.  But upon returning for our second year, we decided to get one way tickets.  It's more economical, and it's just hard leaving home every year to go back to the states.  It's hard burdening people with hosting us, trying to survive in a first-world country on a third-world budget, and all the other craziness that comes with it.
So at first, coming back was a relief.  I mean, yes we missed our friends and family like crazy, but being here for the long-haul meant we could really dig in, settle in and get comfy.
And we were.
Until some not-so-comfortable life events happened.
And our Moshi community rallied for us and supported us and loved us through it all.
But we still weren't comfy.
I wanted my mom.  I wanted my best girl friends that were thousands of miles away.  I wanted a good glass of wine.  I wanted Front Porch ice cream.  I wanted sporadic girls nights with my favorites, huddled around cheese, crackers and berries, in our comfy 'fat pants' as we affectionately call them.  I wanted to have the movie queued on the DVD player but never actually hit 'play' because we were so deep into our discussions.  Real. Life giving.  Affirming. Soul-satisfying. Discussions.
But there was no end in sight anymore.  The Front Porch ice cream was melting.  My girl friends were moving on with their lives and having their own 'fat-pants' nights (as they should!). There was no DVD to queue on our non-existent TV screen.  And the cheese was moldy.
As our Tanzanian winter continues on, and the rest of our friends start their summer vacations, I'm searching for my pinhole.  And I can't seem to find one.  And it's hard.
It's hard for me to form relationships like the ones I've built with my friends in Charlotte. Being an ex-pat in a community filled with ex-pats is amazing, but it's hard.  I've never been a part of such a transient community.  I knew it would be like this before, but I also had a pinhole then.  I had a timeframe in my head of when I could reconnect with my favorites in our fat pants with our wine and ice cream and cheese.
Now some of the closest friends I have here in Moshi are leaving.  Some for good, and some for only a few months as they take their furloughs.
And here we sit.
I struggle to make strong bonds because this is how it works.  People are here, and then they're not. And then they come back, and then maybe they don't.  And there aren't sporadic girls' nights because everyone has a crazy schedule and no one likes to go out after dark on account of it's nearly impossible to drive without dying (okay, slight exaggeration). And the ice cream here is made from vegetable fat and the cheese is watery and molds really fast and strawberries cost $10 for a tiny basket.  And now I'm all 'woe is me', but suffice it to say: I. Miss. My. Favorites.  They are irreplaceable.
I love Moshi, I love our life here and our community and our friends.  But my favorites are just that; they're my favorites.  And my heart longs for them in a way I never thought it would as it searches for the pinhole at the end of our tunnel.  But this is home.  And I need to learn how to do it without my favorites.  And that, my friends, is no fun at all.
It's stretching.  It's hard.  It's crying-all-the-tears kind of nights.
But God is working on me.  Pole pole, he is working. And someday, over the rainbow, I'll see my favorites again.  And we will all be crying-all-the-tears-of-happiness from reuniting, on the other side of this tunnel.