The night before leaving Tanzania, some of my dearest friends put this song on repeat and we sang it together at least six times. Though I was fighting back tears then, I had no idea how much I would miss those brothers and the friendships and family I made during my four years in Tanzania. I’ve been back in Indiana for two weeks now, and more than anything, it feels lonely.
“Home” is an elusive concept. Life here is just different. I’m homesick for Dar es Salaam, but really, I just feel numb most of the time. I am so grateful for Summit City Bicycles & Fitness and their continued generosity in allowing me to work there. Work at the bike shop is the one thing that feels normal. That, and hanging out with my brother (sometimes literally, like on our weekend rock climbing trip to Kentucky!) are the highlights of my life here. For the most part, I fill my time outside of work with running Kweli, cycling, and sleep, but that’s about it. And its not that I don’t love my family–I do. Its just weird. I don’t actually know how to explain how I feel. Staring at the blue walls in my room just isn’t the same as staring into the Indian Ocean. Church with people I hardly know isn’t the same as serving and worshiping with brothers and sisters. Evenings alone at home after my family is in bed isn’t the same as Connect Group, hockey or volleyball nights, Young Life, or rooftop barbecues.
I knew it would be different. I knew it would be hard. But I didn’t expect the transition to hurt quite so badly.
So for right now, I’m just grateful I have friends in Tanzania who will always be there for me. I’m grateful for time with family in Fort Wayne and for a job that makes life seem even a little bit normal. And most of all, I’m grateful for a God who promises to be with me even when I feel completely alone, who knows that I “smile in everyone’s face, but cry when they leave the room,” who understands “the battle I’m going through,” and who offers hope. So I’m going to keep holding on, keep fighting, and keep choosing joy, knowing that its all part of the journey and “pain strengthens and fear drives faith.”
And while I’m at it, I’m going to leave this song on repeat for a few more weeks.