Transition Tales

It was 1 AM on May 2nd. After missing our flight in Atlanta we were finally home. The drive from the airport to home took about 2 hours and John and I were exhausted. We made the turn into our neighborhood and going to sleep never sounded so good. As we approached the driveway both girls woke up and realized they were still traveling, still strapped in their seats and in unfamiliar surroundings. They simultaneously broke down crying. John and I did our best to lead them to the house, take them to the bathroom and put them to bed… all while they were screaming. I will never forget that night. I knew that the official transition had begun and it was not going to be easy. They both cried themselves to sleep that night, but they slept. We now look back on the day and chuckle but I still feel the sting of their disorientation.

The next day it was my turn. I was still exhausted and there were so many emotions at play. I snapped at someone and after I realized what I did I found myself in the car sobbing in the parking lot of “Cookout”. John was in the drivers seat and really there was nothing he could say that would comfort me. I was just processing all the exhaustion and the emotion, and in his own way, he was processing as well. I dried my eyes and went into the restaurant and allowed a burger to nurse my wounds.

At first Ellis’ transition was the most difficult to handle. She was so confused in the house we were in. She had no idea were anything was and everything was unfamiliar. Even if we moved her from one room to he next she would burst into to tears; and forget about the nursery, total meltdowns (we are still working on that one). She is doing much better now and her vocabulary is increasing! Today someone told me she was playing with the other kids and THAT is a huge step forward for her.

The evening after my parents left from visiting, Evangeline had her break down moment. She was being tucked in by John and she told him that she did not like her new pillow pet. She took it and threw it on the floor. She said “I don’t like it, I don’t want it, I want my old pillow pet in Belize.” Guess who decided that we could not fit her old pillow pet in the suitcase and consequently gave it away? Yup. ME. “Mom of the Year” right here. She cried and that is when I came in the room and we began to talk about all the things that we missed about Belize. I cried too. My heart was breaking for her. Missionary Kids go through countless highs and lows and we are trying to instill in our children a trust that God has it all under control.

In Belize when it is cool or even warm they cover up their babies. I never knew how much the Belizean thinking was in me until I got here. After seeing a couple of babies in onesies without socks on I caught myself almost about to say something to the moms about covering up their babies because it was “cool”. Thankfully I caught myself, ‘This is America” I would tell myself “Not Belize”. A similar thing happened on a rainy day. Belizeans do not go out in the rain. In Belize rain = snow. They bundle up and stay in doors. There is no splashing in puddles, it’s actually an excellent time to take a nap. I was at the park with a friend and I could tell rain was coming. I immediately packed up my things and loaded the kids in the car with a “See ya” to my friend and she did not realize I left so quickly. She said “I have never seen someone move so fast to get out of the rain!” We laughed about it. I guess I’m more Belizean than I thought!

I could go on an on with stories. It’s not bad here in the USA, it’s just different. I was just talking to my friend today on the phone and I said, “Do I even know how to be American anymore? How am I conducting myself now?” I was laughing. She said I was doing just fine. All we can do is be ourselves and laugh at our mistakes and cry when the time is appropriate. The beauty of being a missionary is the refining process; the change, learning to balance, the complete trust in the Lord that it takes, the heartache, the moments where we say “Bahhhh!”. With each new step those rough edges are polished a little more and with great friends and family and a church as a support the rough edges may not even be noticed.

5 thoughts on “Transition Tales

  1. Darlene

    Yes, I can relate, Mel. We made changes & moves when our children were small also, but they do adjust quicker than we do.
    Where is the baby now? You just mentioned the trauma of the girls. I guess he’s too small to know any difference right now.
    How are his treatments going?
    Where are you living right now?

    We keep you in our thoughts & prayers.

  2. Phyllis Hull

    Praying that you will see “golden nuggets” along the way as you travel through this valley. Your own emotions are fragile and then you see your children struggling. As a mom your heart breaks for them. Don’t be too hard on yourself, this too shall pass and God is there to hear your cry.

    Love and prayers, from a mom to a mom, Phyllis

  3. Donna Chapman

    Your post is once again so honest and real…thank you for letting us peek inside your mind and heart.

    My husband (Curtis’) 97 year old Mom is dying….we brought her home and I am feeling a lot of feelings as well. Mostly it is such a privilege to do this for her. I was not a great daughter in law but she was a GREAT mother in law….I look forward to seeing you when all this is passed….DC Girl2

  4. Marilyn Meadows

    Thanks for writing your feelings and events Mel. I am one of the mission council here in Poulsbo WA. I am passing on your two last newsletters/posts to my daughter-in-law who is an ‘international worker’ in Guinea, West Africa. They have been there for 10 years and are about to come to Ohio for a 5-week respite visit. It was to be a complete rest for them and their four kids, but now they are speaking almost every weekend. Their own house is rented so they will rent another one nearby. I know by now that their ‘home’ is in Africa. Transitions are hard I know. Thanks for writing and giving them someone to identify with and validate their experiences and feelings. Actually they have come home every four, now three years for a year at a time, except for a shorter visit for a serious illness of an immediate family member and a funeral another time. Not all of them came either time. They have four children from age 6 to age 14 now. They were given a large sum after a truck accident injured one of their sons two years ago so can come this time to visit. It is hard, but doable with the Lord’s help.

    We love you and your family and do pray for you.
    Marilyn Meadows

  5. Dear Mel,
    Thanks for sharing. Who would believe those feelings unless they have traveled the path? Do you now wonder where home really is? Expect to be in transition for a bit. And just when you think you’ve adjusted, it’s time to go back. We’ll be praying for you.

    Kay and Bob

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