Four nights ago, we flew back into Omaha, NE, drove through the straight, flat, clearly marked streets, and stepped into our generously large home. The house and our minivan were immaculate, thanks to the amazing global workers who enjoyed a sabbatical rest here while we were away. I say “were” because we do have three children, after all, who are reconnecting with their toy kingdoms after 5 weeks of enjoying people, bugs, sticks, playground equipment, scooters, and sloped sidewalks.
It is wonderful to be home. Air conditioning eases away the local heat wave and neighborly noises, both human and creature. We have enough space in our home to entertain kids in the basement and still be able to accommodate nappers in the upstairs bedrooms. Anointed worship and teaching at Lifegate fills our hearts, along with hugs from so many loved ones in our church family. Knowing the language, I can banter with a stranger in Wal-Mart about which garlic to buy in the produce section. Sale prices on meat and dairy here in the prairie suddenly seem wonderfully reasonable. In Atenas, Costa Rica, cheddar is $8/lb., boneless skinless chicken breast is $4/lb., bacon is $10/lb (pity my husband, folks), and milk is $4 a gallon. I have two chest freezers and I know how to use them when good sales or garden harvests come along. Our parents are each an easy 35 minute drive away, no Dramamine required. The internet connection works from any spot in the house, at all hours of the day, without a trip to the front porch, trek to the escuelita up the hill, or sitting at the poolside concrete table and benches. Okay, the poolside gig was pretty nice except for the parade of small ants venturing over myself and the computer. Phone calls with friends make laundry duty a happy chore while shared language and culture make the flow of communication easy to navigate.
It is difficult to be home. Life behind closed glass windows can feel a little small. I miss listening for the call of the toucans (the Keel-Billed Toucan’s whisper song is what we heard) in the morning and the constant serenade of birds, bugs, and the occasional gecko chirps. The mowers, weed-wackers, and assorted machine-shed noises are left behind unmourned, though. I miss the mild weather that makes open windows and tiled, covered porches such a mainstay of Costa Rican homes. I miss the glorious sounds of thunder and rain. When I was in grade school, I loved to look at the geographical rainfall maps. I would dream of living in the wettest areas. Costa Rica, nestled in the skinny area between North and South America, is in one of those magical dark blue areas I longed for. It logs an average of 80 inches a year, most of it between May and November.
I miss the simple delight in breezes and sunshine when laundry is on the line, and the victorious feeling of beating the afternoon rain by getting my clothes back under cover. I want to hug the children at the Home, see their cheeky smiles, and have Eliana teach me half of their names again. I have many kisses piled up to give to the right cheeks of the ladies who work so hard at the home, making a family for children who have lost theirs for a time. I miss the new friends we made in other missionaries who call Atenas their home and gave us such a warm welcome.
It is wonderful to be back, and a little difficult, too. Which just shows how blessed we are to be able to serve, love, and be loved in two special, yet different, places.