As some of you know, this Shirk family spent 30 days of this summer on opposite sides of the ocean. . . Madeline was at the National History Academy, David was traveling the US visiting family and Friends of Kijabe people, and Belle and I stayed back in Kijabe so I could keep working while Judy was on home assignment and help open the NICU and help guide the discharge process change.
Belle and I spent countless hours watching nostalgic late 90s movies, and 2022 movies with late 90s stars (aka The Lost City with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum), playing board games, and fixing the things that were breaking in the house. We got in our first car accident in Kenya and I managed to reattach the bumper with a pulley tie so we weren’t stuck in the middle of the highway. We ventured out a few times with friends for shopping trips and food runs and meals, and checked in on David and Madeline whenever the time difference allowed. We hosted a myriad of visitors that come through during July in Kijabe. I was amazed at how much older Belle seemed than two years ago when David went back to the US to see his mom – we alternated walking the dog and cooking and she didn’t blink when I had to go into the hospital on call. We didn’t starve, and I managed to make my coffee (almost) every morning and didn’t miss any of my meetings.
Madeline went to all the Smithsonians that are open, Monticello, Montpelier, Jamestown, Williamsburg, the African American History Museum, and Antietam among others. She saw To Kill a Mockingbird at the Kennedy Center, went to a Braves game (that I think they meant as a Washington Nationals game), went white water tubing, and learned the art of debate and civil discourse by reinterpreting Harvard Review famous cases with some amazing teachers. She made friends from all over the world, and came back seeming just a touch older. . .We meant it as a trial run for college and it seems, in two years when we have to send her back across the ocean, she just might be ready.
David visited his sister and my parents, shot a family wedding, saw the Nolen’s in Austin and our New Life House Church in Houston. He visited board members in 3 states, and rode bikes in the Shenandoah Valley on the way to pick up Madeline to renew her passport. He saw so many people, yet not enough at the same time. We look forward to connecting with everyone else when we are back Stateside over the holidays.
Some summers our life feels normal, and some summers it feels scattered and crazy. And some summers are like this – where they should feel crazy, but we come to the end of it loving and appreciating each other more and stunned at the love and community that envelops us in all our corners of the world. . .