Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I Know You're Gold: 2012 Trip to America

"...write it all and don't forget
You gotta tell us your story

Shout out to the friends back home
Shout out to the hearts you've known
You gave them nothing but the best
Yeah, and you can tell them your story

You'll never be far
I'm keeping you near
Inside of my heart
You're here

It's gotta be time
You're starting to shine
'Cause what you've got is

Gold - I know, you're gold...

I don't need the stars in the night
I've found my treasure
All I need is you by my side
So shine forever."
— "Gold" by Owl City

On August 6th, I and the rest of my family arrived in Wichita, Kansas, after just under nine months of living in Liberia, West Africa. 

As I write this, it's a few minutes before suppertime on the 27th, just under three weeks since I've arrived in America.  We leave the day after tomorrow.

Naturally, there's a little (okay, a lot) of bittersweet memories going on right now.  We've visited friends and family all over the Midwest - from Kansas (of course) to Oklahoma, Colorado, Iowa, and more.  And all in three weeks.  It's been insanely packed and busy, and I've had a lot of long car drives.  But it's been worth it.  We've gone to family reunions, old churches, presented slideshows about our work in Liberia, and so much more.  I've stayed up past three AM on more than one occasion, "danced" to Owl City, laughed long into the night with friends while having a pink paper target taped to my head...yes, it's been worth it.

Like living in Liberia, our trip has been so chock full of stuff that it would take thousands upon thousands of words to even summarize it.  But I'll sure try.

I think one of the most important and encouraging things is the amount of people we've seen and talked with.  In every single city we've gone to, we've heard many of the same phrases.  "We've been reading your newsletters" - "we love you guys" - "it's so great to see you again" - "you're doing such a great work in Liberia".  And honestly, encouragement is one of the best things about being in America again.  Living in another culture tends to slowly tax your nerves, and coming back to America has been fantastic for us - at least mentally.  (Physically, we've had way too many late nights!)

Up until this past week, I've felt surprisingly good about heading back to Africa.  While it's great seeing friends and family again, I was looking forward to being back, especially after visiting some Liberian friends in Colorado and eating rice again.  (You don't know what you have until it's gone; I really miss rice!)

Then, last Wednesday, we drove into Olathe sometime past nine PM.  For those of you who don't know, Olathe, Kansas, is where (before going to Liberia) I lived for three years.  The whole family has a lot of close friends there.

While driving to Olathe and watching the bright lights of Kansas City whoosh by, I heard Owl City's "Gold" over the radio for the first time.  I didn't know it at the time, but that song would be something of a theme song for our Olathe visit.  While we were staying there, I heard it over and over. (One of my friends is an avid Owl City fan and loves that song.  We even sang our own version of it.)  Eventually, I downloaded it to my Kindle and listened to it even more.  (Here's the song.)

In the Olathe area, we saw even more people - almost as many as we had seen in the past two weeks put together.  I didn't go to bed earlier than midnight all week long.  I even got to see Mr. and Mrs. S (or, for you non-OYANers, the Schwabauers) and a fellow writer.

The last day we were there (on a Sunday) was so good and so bittersweet at the same time.  We were literally hopping all around town saying our last goodbyes until after ten at night.

It was hard.

Really hard.

And yet, I still don't wish that we were moving back to America.  We're on a hard track; but we're on track all right.  It was hard saying goodbye, but I never felt like I wanted to stay. Yes, I wish our trip was longer (there's a reason most missionaries take really long furloughs) but I knew that I needed - I wanted - to go back to Liberia.  Because that's where we're meant to be.

And I'm so grateful that we have such good friends.  So, so grateful.

We got on the highway around eleven at night.  And on that drive, I listened to "Gold" again.  It reminds me of my friends.  Except, this time, I really listened to the lyrics.  I loved the tune; but now I love the song.

You'll never be far
I'm keeping you near
Inside of my heart
You're here.

...I know, you're gold.

We have so many people that love us, support us, pray for us.  People that stick to us through the thick and thin, laugh at our really bad puns, and stay up with us past midnight.  We have a lot of wonderful friends. 

And they're gold.


Jake said...


So I wrote this a long while ago and haven't had a chance to post it till now. Sorry about that. :)

We made it safely to Liberia and we've been here for almost a week now. It's good to be back - and good to be eating rice again!

I've got news on my writing, but that'll wait for a blog post, which I'll hopefully have up later this week.

How have things been faring for you all? Summer's up, how was it? Tired of school yet?

Pathfinder said...

Heh. I was eating rice while I read this. :)

Glad to hear you guys got back safely.

It's good to hear from you!

Writer4Christ said...

I live in OK! Anyway, my new co-op(for Christian home-schoolers) is keeping me on my toes, but it's really fun too. I finally finished writing a scene I'd been needing to write for EVER and it feels really good to finally have written the first of it after being stuck for so long.

Kismint said...

Haha, wow Jake, when I saw the lyrics for Gold my brain did a cartwheel.

*cough*big Owl City fan*cough*

'Tis a good song.

Anyway, I'm glad ya guys had safe travels! It sounds like you had lotsa fun when you were here in the states.
But it's reassuring to that you missed your rice.

God bless!

Kismint said...

Ai! Typos!

Sorry 'bout that. >_>

Hannah Joy said...

Bah. You're making me get all teary and I don't even hardly know you! :-P That was a great post. That really was.

And....I feel like someday I'll know fully what you mean. :-)

Can't wait to hear about your writing!