I know what you are thinking.
I know because I used to think it, too.
You are thinking that learning to drive on the right hand side of the road is the hardest part of driving when we come back from the field for furlough.
It is true that where we live we drive on the left side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car. But I must tell you, learning to drive on the right side is the easiest part.
Trying to remember American driving culture?
Now that's torture.
While my reverse culture shock hits overload in the grocery store, Jason's struggle is actually behind the wheel of the car. Unfortunately for him, a major portion of our time on furlough is spent in that seat.
Driving Us Crazy
Now we will tell you that there are several things about driving in the States that we love. We love smooth roads and organized traffic, clean streets and traffic lanes.
We love drive thru windows and getting cups with lids and straws... and driving down a road that doesn't sling the drink everywhere!
We absolutely love driving up to a gas station and pumping our own gas... and getting as much as we want! (After a 5 month fuel shortage crisis on our field, we have learned to appreciate this more than ever.)
We have caught on pretty quickly to stopping at stop signs, driving on the right side, and using the turning signal. But what throws us into a tailspin isn't the rules of the road. It's the driving culture. For example, look at this picture.
Don't you see something wrong?
Remember me talking about Americans having a 3 foot imaginary bubble around them? No one likes people to intrude in their bubble. Well, apparently when Americans get in their cars, the bubble suddenly wraps around their vehicles, too. Americans like their space on the road, even at stop lights. We were scooting up really close because that's what we do in Asia. I think we upset a few people. (Sorry!) In our country, if you leave that much space between vehicles, two taxis, seven motorcycles, two scooters, a cow, and a pack of stray dogs will jump in there. When we come to a stop, we get within a few inches of the vehicle in front of us... and occasionally we play bumper cars.
So we now leave more room in front of us. I wish that were the only problem.
When we drive, we are used to threading through traffic, pedestrians, and livestock of all kinds. It is a way of life-- a driving culture. The pedestrians are used to it, too. Even the chickens pay us no mind as we pass by. We have gotten so good at it that we can do donuts and figure eights around pedestrians without us even breaking a sweat.
But in America? Apparently "yield to pedestrians in crosswalk" doesn't mean "dodge pedestrians with skill." Americans do not like parking lot pinball. We, however, approach it with the zeal of a seasoned gladiator preparing for an epic battle. (To the sweet, blonde lady in the Walmart parking lot: We promise you were in no danger, but we are sorry we scared you so badly. On a happier note, you had some pretty awesome disco moves as you were running for your life.)
We have often told our national friends how little Americans use their horns on the road, and how when an American actually uses his horn that it means something bad. In America, we can usually count on one hand how many times we use our horn in a year. On the field, we would have to use every finger and every toe to count our horn's honking just going to the grocery store right down the street.
On the field, the horn means:
I am passing you.
I am here, don't pull out.
I just feel like honking, because I am bored.
It's my turn!
What is wrong with you?!!!
... And a few other things I shouldn't type.
Let me interject here that since we have been in the States for one month, people have honked at us... a lot. Prayers appreciated.
We have been enjoying having access to an amazing library system again! Yes, we came out of the library with our arms loaded down!
For those on the field without access to a good library... you may still have access to many free digital books through your library system in your passport country. We have "checked out" many books through our library's digital library.
For homeschooling families and families with children on deputation or furlough... take advantage of your library for road trips. There are books on CD that you can pop in your CD player in your car. Also, check out books related to the state you will be traveling through. Leave them strategically placed in the car for your kids to find when they are bored. If you are going to stop to do some sightseeing along the way, how great it will be if they found a book (conveniently placed by mom) about it along the way!
It finally happened.
Our oldest son graduated from high school. Our sending church held a graduation celebration for Ben. It was an amazing service with sweet memories.
But along with graduation comes the next step. Ben is college bound! We traveled to see Ben's college for the first time. It was a great experience, but I must admit that the reality is becoming more... real!
We have been asked by many people how we are doing with the upcoming separation. We will be leaving Ben in the States when we return to the field. Honestly, my heart aches just thinking about it. I will be 10,000 miles away from him! If I allowed myself, I could wallow in self-pity for weeks. But isn't this why we have been training and preparing him? Our goal has always been to train our children how to independently glorify God. They cannot do that if we are always there.
Either way, my mommy heart aches, because I know the parting is coming. Our whole family is learning how to grieve the separation but celebrate the victory. Ben is becoming a man, and that's a good thing.
I trust God's grace will be as sufficient on that day as it has always been.
If you think about it, please pray for missionaries all over the world who make this same sacrifice and commitment. It isn't easy, but our sweet Saviour is worth it.
Be a blessing to a college missionary kid. They, too, grieve the separation. Many of them grieve the loss of the place they feel is home. When you love on MKs, don't forget to love on the MKs left behind.