on returning to Kijabe. . .
We arrived back in Kijabe last week with all of our bags after 26 hours of uneventful traveling. We thought back to 3 years earlier, the anticipation, excitement, trepidation – and marveled a bit at how different this all felt.
In New York and Amsterdam, the girls checked out gate numbers and directed us to the next airport destination. They picked their snacks for the flight and marched with their backpacks ahead of us – seemingly oblivious to the chaos surrounding them. We navigated immigration, customs, and baggage claim with the finesse of having done it so many times before absorbing the Swahili chatter around us. Then, we met John and Paul at the gate with smiles of old friends and loaded our bags into the safari van as we set off on the familiar road home.
When we arrived at our house at 1am. However, it was 5pm in America, so instead of collapsing into our beds, we decided to unpack. Annabelle bounced on the familiar gray couch. Madeline skipped into the room that we planned to decorate with pink and elephants and started planning out the furniture rearrangement. Ruth had left fresh baked apple bread on the counter for us, and we dove into our midnight snack.
This time, instead of unpacking essentials to the kitchen and medical supplies, we unpacked picture frames and linens, wedding albums and scrapbooks, gift from friends and reminders of the people that loved us so much on the other side of the world. We had brought our last boxes from the States with us, and as we emptied suitcase after suitcase, we settled into the realization that our entire physical life was now on this side of the ocean.
In the week that has followed, we have soaked in the hospitality of our friends and family here. We have been home for 8 days and we have yet to cook a dinner for ourselves. We have debriefed the countless changes that have happened in Kijabe since we left – from a change in leadership at the hospital, to changes in the pediatric schedule, to huge life decisions that brought new people to Kijabe and found dear friends moving on to different places. The girls have giggled and run in 5 different directions as they reconnect with their friends, spread out their things, and revel in not living out of a suitcase.
We have been working almost nonstop to do all the projects we dreamed up while we were in America. David has built three desks, two doors, painted our room, retiled a floor, and rearranged his workshop. I have hung curtains, sewed pillows, rearranged storage, and reacclimatized to the 7000 ft elevation in walks with friends. (and we repaired the roof that had a huge hole and almost flooded our upstairs. . .)
Work in the hospital awaits us, but our friends their have graciously given us space to reenter smoothly and set up the framework that makes the marathon of medicine possible. Our time in America allowed us to be present for so many milestones and reconnect with so many people.
We remain buoyed by that care and love and grateful that it carried us back to this beautiful place. . .