Whatever I'm about to write may seem a bit scattered. That's just what I am today. Scattered.
Since returning from Slovakia on Tuesday night, the last two days have been busy with getting settled in again, spending time with my husband, playing with my dogs, grocery shopping, cooking, and getting caught up at work. It's been a constant stream of activity, but I've really been enjoying myself.
I was talking to a friend about my recent travels, and told her that this trip to Europe was quite different than any other I've taken. In the past, when I've gone overseas it has been for pleasure (except for English Camp 2005!). This time, my purpose was first and foremost to see my family and soak up my time with them. Whatever we ended up doing didn't really matter to me at all, just as long as I could be with them.
It was strange to arrive in a foreign land, be reunited with my family, and then realize that this place, Slovakia, is their home now. Although it is obviously still a "foreign" country to them in many ways--they aren't fluent Slovak-speakers, and they don't know or understand all of the customs--they are living life, hour by hour, day to day, just as anyone would in any part of the world. Compared to how they lived in the states, I noticed some positive changes to the pace of life. For one thing, they pretty much walk everywhere. They do have a car, and they drove me, this lazy American, around a lot. But normally, they are pedestrians. My brothers have a greater independence acquired by necessity I think. They walk or ride their bikes around town, to school, to soccer practice, to The Building, to their friends' house. And it's not as though they are walking down some cushy, suburbian street. There aren't suburbs, there are just flats and businesses and soccer fields and schools and churches and grocery stores all muddled together in the heart of the small city of Trnava. I'm sure my brothers don't even notice this change that was so huge and drastic to me. They have done this because they had to--and I think it is wonderful.
I tried telling Ethan how wonderful it is to me that they are living in Europe, going to school, learning another language. He didn't seem to share my enthusiasm. He's looking forward to a month in the states this Summer. Now that I am older (than a 13 and 14-year-old), I am realizing how short life really is. We've been given this time on earth by God, and it is incredible and fantastic to me that they are in Slovakia on such an amazing adventure. At first I thought to myself, "Well, that's easy for you to say. You didn't have to leave your family and all that you were familiar with to go live somewhere completely foreign in every sense of the word." But the more I've thought about it, and especially after visiting my family, the more convinced I am that God has called them to a glorious and wonderful, blessed work. If I were so called, I would do it. I know I would do it.
That being said, I know the transition is difficult and frustrating, and seems never-ending. I am convinced there will come a time (perhaps a long time from now), when the things that are so hard and discouraging now will change into blessings. Friendships will form, communication will flow easily, the things that are taking baby-steps now will be victorious strides. I believe that God will accomplish this. But one thing that is true now will be true then: our missionaries need the prayers of the Church. I hope that as a church our hearts will all become more mission-focused, and that we will remember often those who have gone out, called to such a great work. God has certainly used this visit to refresh me and nourish my heart as I miss my family, but He has also renewed my conviction to pray and pray pray. I'm thankful for that.
Speaking of being refreshed and nourished, I really have been. It was difficult to say goodbye to my family again, but in these past couple of days I am comforted by the memories of this visit. That little (or large, gaping) hole that I feel in my family's absence was filled for a week. I was filled and more complete in a way during that time. And the effects are lasting. As the pain from goodbye lessens by God's grace, it is replaced with warmth and love and encouragement.
On my way home I read two things by C.S. Lewis: The Great Divorce and A Grief Observed. I have my mother-in-law to thank for this, for her gift of The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics: Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Abolition of Man, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, A Grief Observed.
For some reason I can't properly but into words what reading these meant to me during those long hours on my flights. But I certainly feel that I read it in the perfect state of mind: a serious, sober, thoughtful state. It was really wonderful, and I felt that I read them more than I've ever read anything before. See? I told you I couldn't properly put it into words.
Read them. They are short, they are wonderful.
That's all for now, I think I've rambled for long enough. More later.
Oh, P.S.! I watched several more movies on my way home, in this order: Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Beowulf, and No Country for Old Men.
Reviews, in this order: Elizabth: Eh..okay, MMWE: stupid., Beowulf: turned it off after 10 minutes because I was embarrassed to be seen watching it. SO gross and raunchy. Never, ever watch this movie, and last but NOT least, let's talk about No Country for Old Men:
I often don't agree with Oscar, but this year I do. This movie was fantastic! Granted, I saw the very-edited-not-as-violent version of it...but it was incredible. Perfect casting, great acting--the Coen brothers truly, truly captured Texas in it. It was suspenseful and scary and odd and humorous (in a creepy, tense way), the writing is wonderful. When you hear that it is the Texas version of Fargo, believe it. Tommy Lee Jones is the Francis McDormand character.
One of our friends saw this movie said that the dialogue by itself made the movie worth seeing, that it was some of the best he'd seen in years. I completely agree.
Javier Bardem is perfect as the...villain? That seems like a weird word to use. But whatever. There is one scene where he walks into a gas station and has an exchange with the fat, Texan, simple, old man behind the counter. I think it may have been my favorite scene. It is so intense for the audience (or, it was for me), because this jolly old man is conversing with someone who WE know as a pychotic, unpredictable murderer...and you watch as this man starts to realize that something is just not right with this guy...it made me squirm in my seat!!
But be prepared for some language and some pretty nasty violence. NOT a movie for kids. If you saw Fargo, just imagine that kind of messed-up, disturbing, crazy violence. Like I said, I saw the edited version, but I could tell when they cut off a scene--I could tell something really awful was about to happen. I still covered my eyes with my stinky airline-provided blankie.
Okay, that really is enough from me.