Well, they say the third time is a charm so maybe you will see this post tonight :) I sat down and attempted to write it at least twice but nothing came so here i am today and it will come. It must, because today is a day to remember.
My mind has been thousands of miles away today, re-visiting a land and a time that my family holds dear. Today three years ago we left Liberia and came home to the States. I think back to that day and can remember with a lot less pain then I could have two years ago. I was not prepared for the depth of emotion that I felt as we said goodbye to the people and the land that we had come to love with all of our hearts. I can still so vividly remember the heart-tearing sobs, the unreal feelings of this-is-the-last-time for so many things, the last clasp of Vashti's arms as she hung onto my neck, the sight of all of our friends waving goodbye through the glass doors and the pulling up of the jet wheels as we left Liberian soil.
And today, three years later, I look back and remember. And miss so many things:
The children, who loved us in spite of, or maybe because of, our white skin. They have the warmest of hearts and are so friendly and fun. There were always neighbor children around always up to making pizza or playing lappa. They crept right into my heart and will always have that spot. I miss them so much.....
The ocean, ever changing and always beautiful. We had a healthy respect for it after a few close calls. We lived only a few blocks from the ocean and could hear the waves crashing on the beach on especially quiet nights.
It feels a bit irreverent to mention our monkeys after the children and ocean. However, they were a very entertaining part of our lives and kept life interesting at all times. Let's just say our dog was kinda boring after we got home :) Stinker's (the biggest monkey) grand finale after we left and gave her to someone else, was her debut into a pot of pepper soup, after she bit the children too many times. I'm sure she died fighting. That's just the kind of monkey she was. We got Sassy, the smallest monkey, as a traumatized, wee little thing. She wouldn't sleep unless someone was holding her, we had to blow her food when it was too hot, and she pretty much lived it up until one night she squeaked one too many times, and had to go out and live with Stinker. Stinker willingly and capably adopted her as her own and they spent many happy hours together, playing and helping each other get out of the pen.
We were blessed to work alongside a lot of wonderful people during our four years there. Together we battled homesickness, loneliness, malaria and all those overwhelming feelings of trying to understand a new culture. We became family to each other when we had to miss out on weddings and special events that are part of family life, and holidays when family gets together.
There is still a special bond there between us and we can do and say things that no one else gets. Our reunions would be fairly entertaining for non-Liberians :)
This group is the same group as the picture above. A few spouses and children can change a lot :) We had a little Liberia missionary reunion back in July and talked and ate and reminisced all things Liberian.
It's a little sad, but the memories are already starting to fade. We have to scratch our heads a little harder when we try to remember names. Our Liberian English is so rusty it's embarrassing to talk it.
Basically, we have slipped back into North American life. And while we do look back with the most awesome of memories of our Liberia stint, we know that we were called back home too, and are happy to be back. Sure, it still does ache inside sometimes to remember all of "our"children, that we loved on and had in our house and yard so much of the time, to remember the richness of the culture, to remember the fun times we had with our high-energy, interactive monkeys, to remember the chocolate-skinned fingers tentatively feeling our hair and exclaiming over how soft and straight it is, to remember the acceptance and love of even the neediest of the people...... the list could go on but I'll stop.
We came back richer people than when we left. I'm not talking monetary riches either. The Liberian people taught and gave us so many things, and parts of our hearts will always be there.