We're heading back to Holland in one week. After being in missions and traveling around so much, I've gotten pretty good at compartmentalizing my life. Like, I'm in America right now and I think it's cool that I get to tell people I live in Holland and speak Dutch around them, but I feel like I live here. I'm just so absorbed in my present reality. The thing is, now that the one week mark has hit and I need to start thinking about packing and goodbyes, all those boxes that were so handy for compartmentalizing just seem to blow up into a billion pieces. The past 7 weeks start to feel like a dream as I slip into my next present reality, which is life in Holland.

I'm definitely having a lot of feelings about this whole experience right now. And what makes it challenging is that the emotions are on all sides of the spectrum. They're not like all bad or all good... they're just... ALL THE EMOTIONS.

I'm SO EXCITED to get back to my house and say bye-bye to the suitcases that we've been living out of for almost 8 weeks. I'm looking forward to the kids getting back in their "normal" rhythm of going to school and creche. I'm feeling uncertain about how to piece together the things that God has been speaking to us about during this furlough. I'm feeling guilty wondering if I made enough effort to see and spend time with all the people that I hardly ever get to see.

I'm full of expectation and motivation to do new things and finish old things. I'm already missing all the American conveniences which I love and hate at the same time (the huge stores that are open all the time and have everything, the coffee places on every corner, Amazon Prime...). I'm so happy to hear how much English Nora has picked up while we've been here. I've loved seeing my kids build relationships and connect with the people I love.

I'm sad that we're gonna get on an airplane, fly across the ocean, and they won't be able to see those people again for another couple years. I'm sad that I don't get to see those people again for another couple of years (I hate that so much). I love that I'm American and I love so many people in and things about my country. I also love that I live in The Netherlands and... you see my problem?!

Anyways, this is just the process. I've been through it a million times. I kinda want to say, "but I know I'll make it through" because somehow I feel like that's what I "should" say. But I also kinda want to say: THIS SUCKS WHY CAN'T I HAVE ALL THE PEOPLE AND THINGS I LOVE IN ONE PLACE AT THE SAME TIME ALL THE TIMEEEEEEE....

Anyways, this is just a little glimpse into my life as a missionary. Hope it's been enlightening, haha! And of course, if you want to pray for us as we transition to our next present reality, we would appreciate it a lot. :-)

  • Jenni

I always assume everyone knows so I don't talk about it much, but I was (kind of) adopted when I was 9 years old. My Dad died in a car accident when I was 2 and my Mom died of cancer when I was 9. I moved in with a family that we knew from church and they became my legal guardians. In short, I had a pretty tumultuous childhood and adolescence and I'm so glad that as I get older the effects of that become less and less so I can actually be a normal human being and enjoy life. (I'm totally fine with giving the long version of this story, just not right now cause it's way tooooooo late).

That being said, I have very little blood-related family. It's actually such a complicated story, but my birth Mom was also adopted so I have just one connection to my bloodline from that side. The family from my Dad's side lived all the way on the other side of the States and while I had some contact with them when I was little, after my Mom died that contact became less and less. I do remember meeting my Grandma from my Dad's side when I was like 4 years old. One of my aunts came along too and she brought her pet ferret. The ferret was playing outside and decided to take a ride down my little slide, and as it was going down it started to poop... I've never forgotten the horror of that moment (Kathy if you're reading this, I forgive you AND I still love you hahaha).

Up until 2014, I had only seen my Grandma from my Dad's side that one time. Last time we were here on furlough we were able to go visit her and meet other aunts and uncles and it was amazing. She's full-blooded German... she married an American soldier during the war, moved here when she was 18 and has never gone back. But she's seriously amazing, and if you tease me she'll totally kick your butt, so watch out.

Anyways, I really wanted to see her again during this furlough, but it didn't seem like it would be possible. One day during church I got a message that I needed to call my Grandma because she was coming to Washington and wanted to see us... whaaaat??! Turns out that she is traveling around with my Aunt who is a truck driver (the same Aunt who had the ferret) and they got a job to drive a load up to Washington State! So we drove to the truck stop they were going to stay for the night and spent some time with them. I loved it. And I'm so so happy that it worked out that way. For me it was a wink from God, like "I know your desires... surprise!"

  • Jenni

A while back my husband and I took a dive into the world that is an internet-free home. I remember we were on vacation in Germany and it was SUPER hot. The thought had been rumbling around in my head for a few days: should we stop having internet at home?!...?!...!?... (and so on). I was obviously undecided because it seemed so impossible in a way. But one day as we were returning to our guesthouse, I said to Wim: "I think we need to get rid of our internet at home." and he quickly agreed. Thank the Lord for my husband, who more often than not goes along with my 'strange' impressions.

We had experienced something a few months earlier, where I felt that we should cancel our Netflix subscription (probably because I had watched like (almost) every single episode of House M.D. in a way too short amount of time. And when I calculated how many hours of my life went to that, I was pretty freaked out). We had also gotten into this seemingly unstoppable rhythm of watching a movie or a few TV episodes every night that we didn't have something else planned, usually 5+ out of the 7 nights at the time. Which was kind of pathetic and we knew it, but still we couldn't stop. After dinner time (or sometimes before), the boredom would hit and we'd be like, "what are we gonna watch?" Towards the end we spent most of the time just trying to find a non-crappy & non-sexual movie, would argue about it and would watch something which didn't really enrich our lives in any way.

Anyways back to the internet thing: so I had the feeling we should give up the internet. Most of the time when I tell this story, I fear that people think my husband had a porn addiction. That wasn't the case. Actually we both had an addiction, but not to porn... to... information. I don't know how else to label it. But it's that thing when you hit the refresh button on your Facebook page a gagillion times to see if something interesting shows up, all the while knowing that there are so many other valuable and useful things that could be done (spending time with kids, cleaning house, reading books, investing in hobbies & skills, SLEEPING, etc.) and still for some reason you CAN'T STOOOOOOP. I think that's probably what defines addiction, something that you can't say "no" to. So yeah, we were addicted. Actually, we still are addicted. We just removed the temptation from the four corners of our house. But the minute we step out, we're faced with it all over again.

I've become even more aware of this now that we are in the States for our furlough. We have internet access in all of the places we are staying and we just seriously can't handle it. We lay in bed next to each other like zombies scrolling through the news feeds of various social media sites, news sites, reading a bunch of random crap about random crap and in the end we usually feel like crap. I'm not kidding. We're overtired, we didn't rest and relax because we were getting overloaded with brain-stimulation the whole time and we haven't connected in our relationship. I did notice that we are both more irritable than usual and it seems like there's just more opportunities for conflict. Like when he's sitting on his phone while the kids tear the house down and he doesn't notice. Or when everyone is in the freezing car waiting for me to get ready and I'm inside having a chat conversation with someone because it "just couldn't wait".

I'm totally not against the internet, I think it's a great tool that has opened up a world of possibilities for pretty much everyone. And when we are out of the house and there's a WIFI signal, we are ON. Seriously. I can't imagine what people who see us in public must think hahaha. But I'm super aware of my inability to be a normal human being when it's at my finger tips all the time. And by normal I mean, listening to the signals of my body (like the tiredness I feel right now even as I'm writing this. I totally should've been in bed 3 hours ago), being able to concentrate and be present in social situations, having a sense of self-worth and value that is not based on how many people liked my new profile pic (which I DID just post this evening and I must admit, I'm liking the feedback).

I do see some benefits of the constant internet connection: more opportunities to access and be enriched by helpful information and more connection with people (because we really do live in a world of technology and it's the easiest way to get in touch). And If I'm honest, I have felt slightly tempted to get internet at our home again. Because these benefits ARE nice. But the thing is, the more connected we are (to the cyber world), the less connected we are (to the real world). That's a high price to pay. Maybe at some point our self-control muscles will be strengthened enough that we can welcome a modem back into our home. Or maybe at some point my kids' education will demand it. But for now, it's a big no. We just can't handle it.

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