Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A New Year, Another Change

This time last year I made a few goals.

I wanted to train for and run a half-marathon. Check.
I wanted to try to blog every day, "unpolished." That happened for maybe half the year, and then my blogging petered out.
Read more books. I'd say I've done that, especially thanks to having access to a public library again.

A year ago I never would have imagined that a year later we'd have returned from Guatemala. That was a huge and unexpected change in 2016. One of the reasons I stopped writing here last year is that I was trying to process our move and all the changes. And I still am.

People continue to ask us about the "transition" back to the US, back to Oregon. "How does it feel to be living back in the US?" "How is the transition going?" "Are you feeling settled?"

The pat answer is usually: It's good. The transition has gone well. We miss things about Guatemala but also feel like coming back was the right decision for us as a family. Those are all true, but a bit too concise, too simple.

The longer answer is that some days we really miss Guatemala. Some days we are sad when we see parts of Guatemala already slipping from the minds of our two oldest girls. The three years and three months we spent living in Guatemala were hard but also life-changing. Crazy and intense, and Ours. We miss the people and the friends and the diversity. So many things we miss.

But honestly, most days, we have felt relief. Relieved of the stress of living in a difficult environment. Relieved of the stress of an intense job that in no way was confined to an 8-5 schedule. Relieved of the stress that the role took on our family and our girls and our marriage.

The most clear benefit of being "home" is our girls.
I am getting a priceless year with Hazel, before she starts kindergarten this Fall. I get to help at her preschool twice a month. I get to see her thrive in an environment where play is the emphasis, not learning cursive as a 4-year old.
I am getting priceless years with Ruby. I get three mornings a week just me and her. We have a special bond and I know the next couple years when her two older sisters will be in school will be priceless, too.
Ellie is in a Spanish kindergarten classroom, not as intense as her classes in Guatemala. She seems to be thriving and our girls being in a Dual Language Program will continue to guide our decisions in the coming years. It's become a priority for us and we are lucky that Oregon has so many schools with this option.

Last May, when Michael accepted the position with Medical Teams International and we made the difficult decision to leave Guatemala, there were a lot of unknowns. We found an apartment and a school with Spanish Immersion. We bought a mini-van and found some furniture. The position itself didn't feel permanent. If I'm being honest, it hasn't been the best use of Michael's skills and experience, but it was our ticket home, and his open door into a new organization (he had been with MCC for about 7 years). So we trusted and hoped that this step home was just that, one step that could hopefully be the gateway into something else.
Our First Snow in Oregon

And this week, that decision we made to trust the process, to trust that the step towards MTI and Oregon was a good one, has been affirmed. On Friday, Michael accepted another position within MTI. It's a position that will better utilize his skills and experience and education. He'll be switching from a support role in the Latin America department to being the Africa and Middle East Program Manager. It's a big switch, in both scope and responsibility, and will involve quite a bit of travel, but we are excited. I can't help but feel like this entire year, the process of trusting in each step, has culminated in this new position.

It's one of those times in our lives where I will always look back and say, yes, I believe that was God guiding us. We trusted in the process. We trusted that coming home was a good decision for our family. We trusted that Michael would eventually find a better fit. We didn't expect it to happen quite so fast, but we are so thankful.

Enjoying a hike at Multnomah Falls to celebrate our 12th anniversary
I'm so proud of Michael and ready to see what 2017 brings to our family.

1 comment:

Shelly Cunningham said...

So much of what you say strikes a chord with me. I know Alaska and Guatamala are very different, but our isolated lives remind me of each other. Also, the job not ending at the end of the day.

I agree that settling back in the lower 48 was the right thing for our kids, but there are still times we miss it.

Sending you all the best for this year!