our first two weeks in america

All the opposites. That’s how I feel.

Sad. Happy.

Disappointed. Pleasantly surprised.

Relaxed. High-strung.

Thankful we don’t live in America anymore. Mourning all the things we’re missing out on by living in Cambodia.

Too many people we want to see and can’t. Too many people who want to see us (but we don’t necessarily want to see them). (If you’re reading this, I’m not talking about you. We definitely want to see you.)


At this exact moment, I’m sitting in the passenger seat of the mini-van someone generously loaned us for two months. We’re driving through a town bordering the one I grew up in (just drove by the movie theater I used to go to in high school).

Two girls just floated (rolled) down the sidewalk on hover boards (which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in real life), and all of a sudden, I feel like Marty McFly.

Somehow I am in some sort of very confusing emotional time warp, and I feel very uncomfortable.

Very very uncomfortable.

Not as uncomfortable as I’ve felt driving down the road and seeing real actual “Donald Trump for President” signs in real people’s actual yards.

And Confederate flags in windows and on trucks. (Dear Jesus, have mercy. Or throw down balls of fire. Whichever.)

We’ve been in America for 2 weeks and 4 days. Our time here didn’t start off well. We landed at JFK airport in NYC and found out that we couldn’t actually rent the van we reserved because we don’t own a credit card (just a debit card).

Five hours later (and already running on 48 hours without sleep), we were rescued by Eddie, our knight in shining armor, and on our way to Ohio.

Twelve more sleepless hours later (scratch that—Gabe slept an hour in a parking lot from 11:30pm to 12:30am), we arrived in Ohio.

Friday = family time. Both sides. It was good. We managed to pretty much beat jet lag by staying up even more hours until bedtime.

Saturday = our friend Meg’s 40th bday party in Columbus, so we got to see lots of church friends.

Sunday = church.

Weird. All very weird.

That next week is a blur. Time with my fam, Gabe’s fam, and Columbus friends.

Monday through Friday of last week, we stayed at a huge cabin in Hocking Hills, Ohio with my whole fam (mom, dad, us, brother from NC & his fam, sister from SC & her fam, sister from Ohio & her fam). 23 total.

Friday until now = time at my sister’s (with my other sister).

Now = about five minutes from my parents’ house. We’ll unload our crap, and I’ll work on packaging up/shipping Dancing Elephant stuff while Gabe works on photos for the gallery he’s doing on July 16 at our Walk Against Traffick. (you should totally come) He’s also going to switch banks (to one that will let us live in Cambodia and make financial transactions in America simultaneously).

Then, in a couple hours, we’ll head to Gabe’s parents’ for a couple days.

Family time is good. We want to cram in as much as possible since it will be two years before we see them again.

(Hopefully, they won’t be so sick of us by the end that two years apart will be a relief.)

Too bad I’m an introvert and PEOPLE PEOPLE PEOPLE. But I love them. And like them. So it’s good.

Emotions. All over.

There have been tears. And yelling. And really short tempers. And being easily offended. And certain children asking if they ever have to come back to America again after this trip.

There has been a lot of money spent. A lot lot lot. It hurts my head and makes me nervous.

We need stuff for the center and clothes/shoes for tall people and some things for our home and some food stuff and health stuff and beauty stuff. And books and journals. And gas for our van.

Sticker shock. Sensory overload. Fear creeping in.

What if God doesn’t provide? 

(GOD WILL PROVIDE. Been there, done that.)

I feel a little (lot) sad, because there’s been a lot of awesome, and I feel like I’m letting the depression/confusion/reverse culture shock/general overwhelmedness overshadow it. Boo.

For one, our families are just wonderful.

For two, our old church welcomed us right back.

For three, we added FIVE new people to our family’s monthly support team just this week. That brings us up to 76% of what we need. GLORY. (if you’d like to join our team–any amount is so welcome–let me know!)


Well, I just unpacked and repacked our bags. And tried my best to package up Dancing Elephant goodies. Ran out of packing tape. Ran out of boxes. Ran out of patience and steam and kindness.

(I cannot ever do this again. It is so much work. Next time I’m just going to ask someone to give me $500 in lieu of all the shopping, messaging, photographing, posting, organizing, packaging, mailing. I kind of want to cry.  I’m not going to.)

Off we go to hang out with Gabe’s family for three days. Then back to my parents’ for my grandpa’s 90th birthday party (I think it’s a surprise–please don’t tell him). Then to Columbus for the weekend (sharing at Sanctuary Columbus Church Sunday at 10:30am–would love to see you!). Then Gabe leaves for 10 days in CA.

Then we Walk Against Traffick.

Then just 3 weeks until we head back to Cambodia.


Thanks for listening. It helped to get some of it out.

10 thoughts on “our first two weeks in america

  1. Pingback: our first two weeks back – Marla Taviano

  2. Keri

    I am so glad you wrote this post! I have been wondering how you were doing with your trip back to the states. I nodded my head in agreement with everything you wrote knowing I would feel even more so if I was living and serving in Cambodia full time. I desperately miss that place and those people! Being back is hard and often disappointing……more convenient? Definitely. Disheartening? Oh yeah. So wish I could hug your neck and get face time with you so I could ask 1,000 questions about your life. Love you!

  3. Sarah

    So proud of you for your ministry. I can’t imagine what it’s like to come back and be so bombarded. Will pray for peace and rest, and Gods provision and protection.

  4. Janelle

    The big thing is, you can’t be anything different than who you are…..you can’t feel anything different than what you feel = life where you are AT…..it is our journey within yourself…battling and surrendering ……neat thing is..that you never have to worry, guess,…is that JESUS CHRIST loves you @ and in each one ! ( and for that I too am very very thankful )……..

  5. Shari

    Boy, do I understand how you feel! You should totally accept the offer to send out the Dancing Elephant gifts. There will always be someone for that task. An introvert on a crash-visit-overload, I feel for you. Take a deep Holy Spirit breath girl! This too shall pass, and all too quickly really, in the scheme of things. I pray you are refreshed often and fully. Hoping to see you at the WALK.

  6. Carol

    Wow I’m spent just reading this! My prayers for you will continue! How can I help??? Looking forward to seeing/hearing you Sunday. BIG HUGS. 😘

  7. Sara Harriger

    You should hire someone in Minnesota, who you can just send a giant box of coconut bowls, cute little elephants, T-Shirts, & Rice-bag tote bags… a list of names & addresses… and she can just do all that repacking & shipping for you. For a small price of a cute elephant and a journal made from Palm Tree Leaves… 🙂

    (Or, in Zimbabwe, I think – they make paper journals out of dried Elephant Poop. That sounds plentiful and super fun).

    🙂 I might know a girl who could help. <3

    Hugs & Prayers & Hopes Trump doesn't become our President so you don't NEVER come back…

  8. Melynda Amrine

    I’m so sorry that all this is beating you down. It was SO nice to see you and the girls last week. My prayers (and shortly money) are with you and your beautiful family and all your good work. Hugs my friend.

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