If I had a dime for every time one of us has said those words over the past few days …
We left our home in Karen, Nairobi, at about 6:30 PM on the 22nd. Turns out we had just as much luggage as we did when we arrived, even though we are pretty sure our landlord will be discovering Lego pieces in the crevices of the house for some time to come. He was able to be at the house when we were packing the vehicles, so we could say good-bye and even share a time of prayer with him and our Bridgeworld friends that had come to drive us to the airport. That was precious to us. It is hard to express how grateful we are for these friends who truly became family to us over our time in Kenya.
Once we had our baggage checked in, we enjoyed dinner at the airport with the Kims, missionaries to Kenya who were on their way home to California for a couple of months. We had met them a few times, as they have office space on the Bridgeworld campus, and it was a blessing to our family to spend time with them again. We were all on the same flight for the first leg of the trip, from Nairobi to Heathrow Airport in London, UK.
After no less than 4 trips through various security scanners, we and our carry-on items were stowed and seated on airplane #1, and we are thankful to report that the traveling was smooth and uneventful, the food was pretty good, and the sleeping was about as much as you could hope for. Transfer in London left enough time for the kids to burn off some energy in the indoor playground area, and offered the parents a couple of good cups of coffee. Airplane # 2 was boarded, and we were soon over the Atlantic, wondering where on earth the past 5 months had gone. We suppose it is a good sign that time seemed to fly by rather than the opposite, yet we wonder how it is that time can seem both long and short at once.
Clearing customs and immigration in Chicago was uncomplicated, and the kids all did great getting their faces scanned in for the passport checks and whatnot, even Saeryn from her perch in the backpack. It was great to see Lee and Ken waiting for us as we exited the arrivals gate! Every piece of luggage was accounted for except for the stroller that we had actually thought about leaving behind in the first place. Hopefully someone can use it where ever it eventually turns up.
Interestingly, it was about 6:30 PM again, now Nov. 23rd, as we arrived home in Pella – albeit Central Standard Time, which was 3:30 AM East Africa Time, Nov. 24th … But anyway, what a delightful greeting we received as we pulled into the garage! And it just kept going – right down to a home-cooked meal and table all set for supper, and stocked fridge and pantry shelves. The baking, the balloons, the treats, notes, and cards … if we felt overwhelmed, it was definitely in a good way.
So what time is it? It was just Thanksgiving Day in the USA, as good a time as any for some of the “Thank Yous” we have to say. Asante sana to the friends, neighbors, and co-workers we left in Kenya. Thank you to each person that prayed for us, wrote to us, thought of us, and encouraged us. Thank you to our church family at Faith for loving us so well here, and to our own families, in all their various places, for loving us from afar. And thank you to our Father in heaven, who holds together time and space around the world, no matter how mixed-up we might be about what the clock says, or what our hearts are feeling about where home is right now. We take comfort in knowing He is the same around the globe, and we praise Him for how He has sustained us and provided for us throughout our journey.