Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life after Rwanda

AUSTIN, TX – Its been 4 years since I have been in America and I just can't seem to find my new normal. You'd think it would be easier to transition back, but its not. Life after Rwanda is like getting back on the treadmill for the first time in 4 years, except the speed is pre-set to fast and I can't change it. I am trying so hard to stay on and not fall off. Stress and hurt is my most common sensation. My husband and I have been working hard to catch up with the life race and pace of America. We've had pockets of blessings and tidal waves of challenges.

Finding a new livelihood has been the most challenging. I am a hard worker. I face every task with all that I've got. But the American workplace in every industry has changed. Work ethics have changed. I am still trying to find my new normal as far as career also. This is all I can say at this point.

Its been challenging for us to find our new HOME. We've trekked to Los Angeles and now Austin, but nothing seems right. I just miss people, places and situations of the past more and more. Its difficult to find a spiritual base and I just feel so empty inside.

I am struggling even to find my new normal with God too. Perhaps it was the biggest mistake not to return to my hometown of Houston and my home church. My newlywed husband and I came into America in a very weak state, with no support system and very little finances. It would have helped to have at least had friends and familiarity around. To have a stable re-fueling base. To have the spiritual support of my home church. But what choices we made is what we've had to live with. I have to confess that one reason I didn't exactly move back home was that I was afraid my expectations of coming home would have led to disappointment of things that have changed and moved on. But all in all you cannot run away from expectations nor disappointment. Wherever you go, it follows. This I have learned.

There are a lot of personal challenges that I wish I could share, but I must keep private. Lets just say that its been an emotional roller coaster of facing my mortality and trying to understand God's choices for me. I'm still riding that roller coaster. Don't get me wrong. I still love God and believe wholehearted in Christ. There are just some very heartbreaking realities I've had to face. And I have to say that, for survival sake, I have moved on pretty quickly, knowing that I may still have to re-visit the grieving stage.

I have worked all my life to rise up in difficult professions, and its like in the four years I was away in Rwanda time ate up my credits. Getting back in the job market I have had to take many steps back, a tremendously humbling experience. I am feeling so de-valued. My skills are still strong, but the world has changed its work ethics. Its like in Rwanda, I stepped back in time and was living in slow motion. Now, back in America time has sped up and I am steps behind. Before and during Rwanda, I was a successful mid-manager, having built creative marketing departments from bottom up, having launched multi-media advertising brand marketing campaigns and coordinated promotional events for commercial and nonprofit causes. But no one is willing to accept what I've done in the past for almost 20 years nor believe that I can still do it. Its heartbreaking.

I have been so blessed to have wonderful life friends, but their lives have moved past mine. We are still in touch, but people get busy with life. Finding new friends has not been easy.  Its like a wise friend in Rwanda once told me "everyone is out for their own benefit." He meant that everyone connects with each other only for the value you bring to their lives. When you cease to be of value or benefit to them for whatever reason, you are no longer needed. Its a tough but true realization. Making new life friends is not something you seek, it finds you. Then it takes time to see people for who they really are.

So, as I continue on this rough journey to find my new normal, I have only this blog to share my thoughts. I know many followers have moved on since I returned, but that is ok. I am so happy to see some of them on fb, so blessed in their lives. I just can't sleep tonight and needed even a virtual friend to talk to. I still hold on to God's promises because I never lost faith in God, however rough the wait is. I know that he has a future full of blessings and peace planned for me. As challenging as my life has been, I know I have been so blessed to find Christ and I have been so blessed with wonderful friends and experiences. As painful as things can get, the enemy cannot steal, kill nor destroy my blessings because they are engraved in my heart forever.

I will always have a bridge that connects me to Rwanda. I would not have traded my mission in Rwanda for anything...the experience is priceless. Whatever I had to give up to go to Rwanda was worth the sacrifice. I have many friends for life on the other side of the world. The stories I could tell and ongoing relationships are countless.

I will always have a bridge that connects me to America. And as challenging as America can be, its also my home and I love America with all my heart. As the song says "God will make a way when there seems to be no way." I have faith.

And I am not going to be afraid of posting this. I pray protection over my words in the name of Christ. God bless you if you are reading this. Love and peace is still the goal in all of this. -Amen