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OUR LATEST LETTER:
October 4, 2009
Letter #32: Home Again?
I stood outside my children’s new school here in Seattle early one morning during the first week of classes watching at least a hundred parents huddling around making sure that their kids were comfortable and secure before they bid them farewell for the day. I thought back about how our Bolivian neighbors’ kids would often walk alone for long distances just to have the opportunity to attend school with no parents in sight. I stood in the center of an enormous car dealership looking at hundreds of cars to choose from while I thought back on how wonderful it was not to own a car and just jump into a “taxi trufi” along with all my Bolivian neighbors to catch a ride downtown. I sat in an auditorium of over 300 American pediatricians attending a review conference in Portland all punching numbers on their i-Phones and Blackberries while I thought back to the time that I was working in rural Bolivia with no access to any medical information or any other pediatrician.
Cell phone contracts, car purchases, monthly bills, cable TV, kids’ schedules, 24 hour news and sports, and so many other “new” things which we are slowly getting used to are all part of our “re-entry” into our “home culture”. After the initial feelings of being overwhelmed by the choices at the grocery store and all the modern conveniences of life in the US, we remain with the lingering feeling of being separated from everything and everyone around us; that feeling that everyone else seems to know how to do everything and we are standing on the outside looking in. As strange as this new world seems to be, Bolivia seems so far away at this point that the occasional e-mails we receive from our Bolivian friends shock us back to our old reality which still exists there. Such a difficult state to be in and even more difficult to express. Home is not the same. Friendships are different than they were before. Our kids are not the same small children they were when we left. It is as if we were lifted out of our lives and placed back down again in the same home, same neighborhood, same friends, but, without the four years of experiences and development that everyone else has had. Oh, how we miss Chilimarca and our Bolivian friends and neighbors. Oh, how we long to feel “at home” here. Oh, how we struggle to merge our past and our future together.
This is our current state. Transitions are tough as many of you know. We travelled for quite some time this summer before finally landing back in our old house in Seattle in mid July. After much searching for work in Seattle as a pediatrician working in community health, I have finally landed a couple of part time temporary positions working for the health department and a clinic serving the Latino population here. Becky is just starting to look for part time positions in community mental health, hopefully with the Latino community, and investigating possible ways to continue her outreach to psychologists working in developing countries. Josh and Celia have started school at the local public school only three blocks away where many of our friends’ kids attend. They are adjusting well and we are fortunate that they ended up where they did. Yet, they still have their sad or angry moments when they say they miss Bolivia. The practicalities and logistics of life back in the US at times overwhelm us. Yet, we are slowly adjusting. We hope and pray that our lives as missioners here in our own country will become increasingly clearer to us each day. We look back on our days in Bolivia with fondness and appreciation for a simpler life and an awareness of God’s grace each and every day. We know it is possible to do the same here; we just have to be patient and willing to stumble our way through.
Thanks so much to all of you who have helped us in so many ways as we have returned. Some of you have welcomed us as guests in your homes. Many of you have helped us with job searching, car shopping, school adjustment, painting, childcare, and many prayers. We are eternally grateful to you and continue to be dependent upon your generosity. Thank you also to our wider group of family and friends who have listened to our story over the last several years and supported us with donations, letters, calls and prayers. You have sustained us through all the joys and challenges and we will always be grateful. Even though we are no longer Maryknoll Lay Missioners in name, we hope to continue our lives with the same spirit of openness and solidarity which we embraced as missioners. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers as well as the wonderful people of Bolivia.
Joe (Becky, Josh and Celia)
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