“This is NOT home.”

airplane over cochabamba, bolivia, january 2015

Our little mob of weary wanderers rounded the final corner of our 36 hour journey. Mama and Papa caught each others’ eyes and puffed out a breath to prepare for impact.

“You ready for this?” they asked.

“Nope,” they answered.

“Here we go,” they said.

All the kids, with baggage to drag, followed the plod of their parents up the ramp from the airplane to the airport. I saw my parents before they saw us. My mom, my dad, my youngest brother, and my youngest sister came out that chilly Saturday afternoon in January to gather us. You might tell me that was only four days ago; it feels like a lifetime ago.

We left Bolivia. To quote a friend, “It is not so weird that you left, what’s weird is that you are not coming back.” Oh the sting.

The impact of the separation has not yet hit me. I am sure the ones we left back in Bolivia are feeling it. I have been the one left behind, it is excruciating. I can see on the faces of some of my kids the sadness and loneliness. Others beam with relief and renewal. The colors of our emotional profile burn bright like a sunset on fire. Or is it the sunrise?

The transition material tells me that a new beginning starts with an ending. The rites of passage of ancient cultures teach us to face the end, embrace the grief, and move through to the new. Denial, slap a happy-face emoticon on it, fake-it-’til-you-make-it, just won’t do. Honest tears help wash the soul.

It hurts so much, though. And there are so many people so very happy to have us here. And we don’t want to disappoint people. But it is not fair to them if we are dishonest with our “glee” in the hopes to manage their emotions. No. This is not what we want to do. So we sit broken, together. Yet, there does exist happiness in all the grief. Sparks of hope of what will be flare up and our faces make genuine smiles.

Oh yes, I was talking about the airport.

We walked into view. My mom burst with shouts and ran to catch me. My sister cried and wrapped my kids in her arms. My brother said with pride and joy, “My sister!” My dad laughed as he welcomed us all. What was left of my mascara ran down my cheeks. I felt like my heart would explode.

Then I looked around at my children. My oldest stood off to the side, away from the huddle of hugs. I moved over to her. The anger and helplessness radiated from her reddened eyes as she met me with an indictment. Through gritted teeth and a cracking voice she whispered a gruff, “This is NOT home.”

I wrapped her in affirmation and understanding. Yes, I told her, you are right, this is not home. We cried. I told her we would talk later. She nodded.

We grabbed our 12 checked bags off the conveyor belt. I unzipped a few and snatched out sweaters and jackets for all of us. No matter how many layers and hats and scarves and gloves I put on I couldn’t cut the chill. We loaded up the people and the stuff and drove to our borrowed residence. The rest of the day rushed by as we set up beds, tended to the kitchen and bathrooms, and sorted the bags into the rooms.

When just the Washingtons remained in the home warmed by the wonder of heat blown through vents I called Raimy to my side. She initiated the conversation. Her countenance was calmed yet fatigued, and she said, “About what I said… this is not home, yet.”

Yes. That’s right baby.

Love. Be loved.

signature2

One Week Ago We Didn’t Even Have Tickets

Can you believe that? One week ago we didn’t even have plane tickets for our family to travel to the U.S.A.. Now, we are here, have a great place to stay while we find a place of our own, and OWN a 7 passenger van (which is a whole story for a separate, dedicated blog post). A small army has been working to gather stuff for our new home. My sister and brother-in-law collected from tons of people: some beds, bedding, dressers, towels, toiletries, some groceries, coats, hats, scarves, toys, games, some kitchen items, laundry soap, a laundry basket, Target gift cards, and a coffee maker. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of a friend who set up a facebook page to organize people, a few churches helping out, and many people networking, we feel very loved and cared for.

My parents, one of my brothers, and one of my sisters met us at the airport. There were hugs, happy tears, and lots of loud. It was great! They helped us get into the house of my brother-in-law’s father, who happens to be away on a golfing vacation and graciously opened his vacant home for us to stay in for free. WOW! I am so grateful for the generosity from someone I have never even met.

Before dawn Friday morning dear, dear friends came and collected us from the missionary housing where we were staying in Cochabamba. We said tearful goodbyes and started the 36 hour journey back to the city where both DaRonn and I were born and raised. The kids are amazing travelers! There were lots of talks about our move down to Bolivia way back in 2001. We compared, contrasted, and reminisced.

Ahead of us now in the coming days are: finding a house, filling it, and settling in. Please pray for us, as I know you already have been. Things seem to be falling into place. I am so grateful.

The kids have said some amusing things these first few days. The laughter has been helpful to break up the fatigue and tension.

— — — — — —

Me: Tyler, when you go to the bathroom you can put your toilet paper in the toilet and flush it down.

Tyler: [look of utter disgust] That is so gross!

Me: Yep, your pee, your poop, and the paper all together.

Timothy: [from the other room, singing loudly] We will all go together when we go down!

Cultural orientation – – – in Bolivia the plumbing systems are different and the used toilet paper is thrown into the trash can beside the toilet. Here in the U.S. the used paper is flushed.

— — — — — —

Can I go drink from the water fountain! (Five children RUN through the airport to quench their thirst.)

— — — — — —

Look, a mailbox! Oh look, there’s another one!

— — — — — —

These houses are so beautiful! (In one of the more simple parts of town.)

— — — — — —

There are SO MANY  [you name it on the shelves in the stores]  to choose from!

— — — — — —

This pizza is SO GOOD!

— — — — — —

It is SO COLD! (The locals are in lightweight shirts and no jackets. We are in layers, coats, hats, and scarves.)

— — — — — —

You can drink the water from the faucet. WHAT? Yes, from the faucet.

— — — — — —

Timothy on day 2: I still feel weird drinking water from the faucet. I mean, it tastes fine, but I am thinking in my head the whole time, “I am drinking bugs!”

— — — — — —

on the wall of the house we are staying at

on the wall of the house where we are staying

signature2

Amo a Bolivia

Amo a Bolivia.

Amo a los bolivianos.

Amo vivir en Bolivia.

Amo a mis hijos bolivianos.

Amo mi vida boliviana.

Amo el regalo de poder criar a mis hijos en Bolivia.

Amo a nuestros amigos bolivianos.

Amo a los misioneros en Bolivia.

Amo la comida boliviana.

Amo el paisaje boliviano.

Amo la diversidad de Bolivia.

Amo lo que Bolivia me ha enseñado.

Amo la humildad, la furia callada, y la perseverancia de los bolivianos.

Amo al arte boliviano.

Amo el idioma de Bolivia.

Amo el ritmo boliviano.

Amo a Bolivia.

Ahora…te dejo Bolivia.

Bolivia ha dejado su huella en mi cuerpo, en mi alma, en los mismos hilos de mí ser. Y si, por algún caso no lo hubiere aclarado; y esto es muy probable, ya que en este tiempo la claridad me elude: yo no quiero irme de Bolivia; aunque sé que eso debemos.

Las cosas no podían seguir igual. Grandes cambios requieren de una gran decisión.

La mayoría de las personas han sido discretas para formular la delicada pregunta “¿Por qué?” Aprecio esto. Los que deben saber el porqué, lo saben; por esta seguridad y confianza estaré siempre agradecida. Estoy aún más agradecida por las personas quienes permiten que haya un silencio incómodo de preguntas no respondidas entre nosotros, y no empujan, ni se alejan.

¡Ay! mis queridos.

Ha sido mi creencia que es siempre más difícil para los que se quedan que para los que se van. Siento como estamos arrancando a nosotros mismos de las vidas de personas que amamos y quienes nos aman, duele. Siento horrible, como estoy infligiendo dolor intencionalmente. Lamento todo el dolor causado.

¿Sabes qué es raro? La intensidad de la tristeza que gira y palpita junto con los sentimientos opuestos de contentamiento y esperanza. ¡Más que todo, esto es lo que me destroza! Estoy triste porque estoy dejando Bolivia pero estoy feliz porque estoy yendo a los que están esperando atraparnos en los Estados.

Me han dicho que todo esto es normal. ¡Pucha! lo normal es raro.

La curva del rio en Trinidad, Bolivia

La curva del rio en Trinidad, Bolivia

signature2

River bend and reflections in Trinidad, Bolivia

I Love Bolivia

I love Bolivia. I love Bolivians. I love living in Bolivia. I love my Bolivian children. I love my Bolivian life. I love that I have been able to raise my children in Bolivia. I love our Bolivian friends. I love the missionaries in Bolivia. I love Bolivian food. I love the landscapes of Bolivia. […]

my office

Greetings from Limboland

We walked through the lobby of the Real Audiencia hotel in Sucre, Bolivia with our kids. Displayed by the front counter stands a full suit of armor from the days of knights and castles. They said, “Wow!” too many times to count in awe of the ancient artifact. We walked down the corridor of red carpet […]

My Teen Girls in Uyuni

Bravery, a Derivative

I really don’t feel strong or brave. Most days I jolt awake as the rush of nervous acid pours into my stomach. The aftereffects of the daily emotional roller coaster ride make me nauseated. The regrets choke. Thus, I have determined that bravery is not an emotion, it is a derivative. As I share my […]

"Rescue is Coming" Exodus Road t-shirt

Thanksgiving Gift

Patterns can be deciphered only after the passage of time. We hear beauty in music because we anticipate repetition, as well as remember what came before. My life used to be driven by goals, small objectives to reach those goals, and problem solving along the way until those expectation boxes could be checked. My eyes […]