Wednesday, December 9, 2020

How are we really doing one year on? Here’s the Good, the Hard and The Ugly.

Many of you have so kindly been asking us how we’ve been going. How we’ve transitioned and if we’ve settled into NZ yet? So here’s my very honest, very vulnerable assessment of just that.

Of course, I could give you surface level. And tell you about how I’m so far behind on technology it’s not even funny. I’ve missed out on 6 years of technological advancements -  and it shows.  What on earth is Microsoft Teams, Planner and Snapchat? Don’t tell my work but I literally don’t even know where to save anything so I just save it to my desktop. Pretty sure that’s really bad and not allowed but I’m too scared to tell the IT Department.

Since when were Instagram stories more popular than Instagram and why is all my text right aligned and how do I add music to videos and why is it so hard for me to learn this stuff? I Also, I have no idea what to wear anymore. I used to pride myself in my “fashion sense”. Not anymore folks, not anymore. I have officially lost touch. My friends pretend not to be embarrassed when around me. Oh and training the kids to be more civilised has been a real up- hill battle. They eat food off the floor, wipe their nose with their shirt, dress in whatever the heck they want and don’t even get me started on the mall. Let’s just say they do not know the correct “protocol” and call the escalators “magical stairs”.

It’s also been weird getting used to being “on time” again. I’m so used to showing up to things late (as that’s on time in Uganda). It’s been my excuse for about a year now and I think it’s reaching its shelf life. Pshh.

How are we really doing one year on? Here’s the Good, the Hard and The Ugly.

The Good:

It is so wonderful to be back. I’m really happy we are here. It feels right. Who knew when we left that a global pandemic would sweep the world a mere three months later? Being back with our families is everything I hoped it would be. Reconnecting with my brothers has been especially sweet. Spending time with old friends and meeting new ones is amazing. In fact, I’d say in the last two months it feels like we’re finally hitting our stride. We’re getting to know who our people are, we’ve worked out where to get the things we need, we’re starting to make new traditions and we are truly loving New Zealand.

The Hard:

1) My kids haven’t grown up here. Instead their childhood quirks and experiences are sacredly stored amongst many missionary/expat women now (mainly thanks to Covid) scattered all over the globe. This makes me eternally grateful and also sometimes deeply sad. I wish I had that shared history and those inside jokes with my friends here. And I wish those Mamas lived in New Zealand too.

2) Speaking of friendship: This year I’ve grieved the loss of the incredibly close community I had in Uganda. Moving back, some friendships here are deeper than ever, others have moved on and that’s ok. Some of the drift is us. I know that. We’ve changed and lived away for 6 years! God has been so kind in bringing incredible new friends to us too!

3) Both of us have been used to living in a constant state of adrenalin. Coming down off the ‘high’ of living on that level has been something to get used to. That daily life adventure of stress and excitement all rolled into one is (for the most part) gone for now. Doing 30 trips a year between us is off the radar for the foreseeable. And we miss it. I think because we haven’t been travelling and we’re not used to the quiet life, much less the lockdown life, we’ve tried throwing ourselves full steam into projects, even crazy projects to make us feel normal because chaos was our normal! That’s probably not been very healthy.

4) Not being surrounded by Ugandans. We miss it ever so much. And I’m acutely aware of not wanting my children to be the only brown faces in the room. I hate it that we’ve taken them from a majority culture to a minority one. I spend a lot of my time trying to work out how to mitigate that from everything to where we go to school to where we live and who we hang out with.

5) I still have a scarcity mentality and I can’t shake it. Especially with shopping and food. Despite the fact that I live in the land of plenty, I still find myself not trusting stock levels and things to be available. I am hyper vigilant and insanely organised with food and birthdays and backstock for all things from Father’s Day cards to shampoo. This is a blessing and a curse.

The Ugly:

A few weeks back we did a two day debrief with a trained therapist who debriefs people that have lived in challenging environments and been witness to hard things. Out of this, one of the many things that came up was loss. And I realised that if I’m honest, a big part of my identity was wrapped up in living and working in Uganda. Now that we are here, I feel like I’ve lost 49% of myself. And that’s a big chunk.

During the debrief I felt like I was being asked to let go. To put a full stop on that chapter of our lives and turn the page.  I kept getting the strong sense that God was trying to do a new thing and I kept trying to fit my old life into my new life. So I picked up a shell from the beach, told it what it symbolised to me and together we threw it into the ocean. Closing this beautiful chapter and turning the page to a promising new one.

And then I was reminded; whenever I’m on the field about to do a shoot I always pray, “God, show me where you are here. Show me what you’re up to. I need to find you here.” That’s my new prayer for now too.  Maybe it can be yours for 2021 as well?

 Love, Helen