The Myhres are, at this moment, all in the US of A. And right smack in a whirlwind of transition. We've started a month-plus of travel, 13 different stops with different beds and people and traditions. Two kids moving into completely new school environments, one starting a new on-line class (which is proving rather complicated) in addition to his senior year of high school things, and the other re-committing to a decade of intensity of engineering, military, and stress. I am now comfortable with Bed, Bath, and Beyond after being overwhelmed disastrously by its numbing detailed excess of choices four years ago. We have a car Scott bought used on a trip in January, so for the first time in two decades we are driving around on our own. Somehow we managed to fit everything two kids own (which is about two suitcases each, not much), everything the rest of us have for a month of travel, and five people into this Volvo.
And for a brief few days, we were six. We had planned a family biking vacation as a way to transition from the intensity of Kenya, medicine, graduation, patients, exhaustion, to the route of visits and moving. 30-40 kilometers a day of back-roads biking, scenery, picnics. Evenings eating and talking. A couple days into this Caleb showed up at our door one morning, having gotten away from his overseas deployment a week early (perhaps his proximity to two wars prompted the Air Force to get the students out, or just the kindness of some colonels who moved up the orders, or the gift of God to this mom). He flew back to CO, processed paperwork in record time, got an unscheduled leave, and flew to find us as a surprise. Glorious.
Our real America trek began with a wedding in southern PA. Two of Luke's classmates married each other, and he was a groomsmen. Thomas is one of his best friends in the world, and we love both sets of parents whom we've become friends with working at Kijabe. The RVA class of 2010 showed up en masse, about 20-30 kids. The weekend was on a rural farm, with lots of music, dancing, hugging, stories, a pig roast, home made wine, and an atmosphere of palpable love.
Which has been the surprise of this America journey so far. It is the first time I have flown into the familiar Dulles airport with no parent to meet us. When the plane was descending, I was mourning my Dad's death freshly, even though it's been 8 years. And even though I know my mom's new home is best for her and the right decision, it gave me a sense of loneliness to know that 118 Lake Drive no longer awaited. By the time we navigated the 14 loops of lines at immigration I was wondering what it would be like to enter America without family. But on the other side of the airport doors two women from our main supporting church waited for us, having driven our car to meet us. Ellen S has quietly and efficiently stepped into the gap, organizing mail, advising on finances, providing a storage and stop-off point and food and friendship and a thousand details. Sharon B gave up her day to circle the parking area in July heat. We stayed in Baltimore at the home of Suzanne and Dave T, who even had grilled salmon (they couldn't know it was a favorite and often our first meal at Grammy and Grampy's) and beds waiting. The T's lived in Uganda for a year and they understand a thing or two about transition and homelessness and the need for space and a kind ear. The wedding was a glorious abundance of relationship, at least 9 missionary families intersecting and dozens of kids. We were able to make it to Virginia in time for church at Grace, another warm reminder of being loved and known. And for the last two days in Charlottesville we were hosted in absentia by Lisa, Craig, and Ashely W who left us their house (and a friend, and three dogs) while they were on a family vacation. The style, furniture, layout, everything about this home is so similar to 118 Lake Drive. Whenever I was looking for something as I prepared dinner I just thought: where would my mom have put that? And there it was. A missionary-kid who worked with us in Uganda, Tim W, appeared to help us navigate moving Luke into his apartment. Dear friends from Uganda, Nathan and Sarah E, have moved to Charlottesville for a surgery residency. So last night we spread a table out on the patio, grilled meat and vegetables from Sarah's job on a farm, fresh fruit and corn, candlelight and laughter as we pulled Luke's new apartment-mate Jake into the family. (Who has been a delightful gift and surprise, seems like a solid, friendly, wise guy whom we are very thankful for Luke to live with). Wonderful.
Which goes to demonstrate that community is fluid and re-collectable, in disparate times and places. That the celebration of a meal and stories re-builds connection. That what seems to be lacking can be abundantly filled by God.
And we need that faith this month. Julia has said goodbye to all her friends, and her home, and everything she's grown up with, and is in the limbo of heading to Duke. I don't think I was prepared for Luke's transition from college to medical school, from Yale to UVA, from north to south, to feel as weighty as the high school to college jump. He's lived away from home in dorms for six years, after all. He's risen to a thousand challenges, formed friendships from ground zero. But here he is again, 21, nervous, living in an apartment for the first time, buying a used bed, thinking about groceries and health insurance, surrounded by an entirely new group of people in an entirely new place, with a very long and hard road ahead.
So while God has given us some incredible reassurances: Caleb's surprise arrival on vacation, a memorable wedding to celebrate with people we love, a good apartment and friend for Luke, scholarships, and entire team of supportive people to help us along the way, reminders of the constancy of community . . . it still takes time and work to walk through these transitions. Change involves inevitable loss; resurrection has to be preceded by death. Thanks for your prayers.