I am currently 2 months into a six month stateside furlough. I’m finally starting to adjust to life back in the States. Finding a work/life balance is difficult for me in the familiar surroundings of Prague, much less Griswold, Iowa. I realize I am from this area and grew up here, and my documents all state my residence as Griswold, Iowa, however it has been over 8 years since I have actually lived here for any length of time. And I’ve never had to be anything more than a student here.
Reentry stress is a real thing. Sometimes it can be funny and sometimes it can be stressful. I apologize to anyone who tried to talk with me during my first two weeks back and only got a deer in the headlights look in response. A few years ago when I came back for my brother’s wedding, I apparently spent ten minutes trying to buy Tums from a Wal Mart. I thought I was fine. Dad said I was not fine. I mean really? Why do we need an entire aisle of antacids? This year, Dad had some waiting for me at home.
It’s been interesting being back after such a prolonged period. I’ve had a few people ask me if I have noticed anything different. The answer to that is, of course, yes. People get older. I have a new niece. Friends continue to graduate from graduate or professional school. Many of them are getting married and starting families of their own. All positive things.
There are also some unfortunate things that have occurred while I have been away. For whatever reason, I’m not in contact with many of my friends from high school and college. Some friends have also, unfortunately, been called home. It is hard to see their families without them there.
On a larger scale, I have also noticed that people aren’t talking to each other. It seems we have let our country and our politics define us more than our God and the Gospel and that has led to a divisiveness that is certainly more pronounced than when I was home even two years ago. And that is sad for me to see.
Overall, it is good to be home. I left Prague pretty wore out, so it is refreshing to go to church every Sunday and be surrounded by people who pray for me and my ministry in Prague. I am blessed to belong to a wonderful church full of faithful people who are supportive of what I do and are fervent in prayer.