My regular blogging routine has really been thrown off this week, but that’s ok!
Today I’m linking up with 5 on Friday!
I’ve realized that since I started this blog I haven’t written too much about my growing up years. For those of you who are new readers here, I spent 16 years of my life as a missionary kid in Niger, West Africa. Those were 16 of the best years of my life so far. I speak the language, I understand the culture, I have many native friends, and my parents still live/work there. For me, it truly is home.
This month I’ve been purging our house of STUFF. Yesterday, I was thinking back to when I graduated high school and came to the States (5 years ago!). I had two suitcases of things. That’s it. That is all that I owned in the whole world.
As the years have passed, life has continued. I’m so blessed to have met Theo, married him, and now get ready to welcome our precious baby girl. Life is very different in the States, and even though I’m American, I still feel like I don’t fit. Every day I think about Niger and the impact that it has had on my life.
So today, with a lot of nostalgia mixed in, I bring you: five things I miss about home.
1. My family
My parents currently live thousands of miles, an ocean and several days journey away. I am SO thankful for the internet, especially as I go through this crazy roller coaster called pregnancy.
They come back for every big life event, though…so we try to schedule those once every few months =)
2. The kids
There were SO many children in Niger. Everywhere we went, there were kids. The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” is implemented, and if you are an older person, you have the right to train, teach, play with, or discipline a child. This means that children are always walking around without adult supervision, looking for things to do, and they are ALWAYS receptive of love and a good conversation. I miss that.
Now, I work with children, but I have to watch every single thing I say and do, just to make sure it’s not reported falsely or wrongly back to a parent, and I’m taken to court for saying something that I didn’t even really say, and that I especially didn’t mean. I miss not having 20-25 kids in my front/back yard, just to chill or play with each other or talk to me.
3. The culture
I love this shot of my Mom and one of her friends. I feel like it really captures so many of the cultural differences. mud houses, cloth-pattern outfits and headscarves, sitting for houses just “being friends”, working on meals and sustaining life throughout the whole day (instead of a 9-5), living in community.
The poverty is astounding, but the people are even more so. Resilient, respectful, creative, beautiful.
I miss that.
4. The community
Amongst the nationals, friendships/relationships are the most important thing. Not a job, or a paycheck or success. All of those things are important, but when someone comes to visit, all those things are dropped. It’s such a different way of life than we see here, where we have to “check our schedules” before we can get together.
But even beyond the community in the culture, I also had the missionary community all around me. As MKs, we called almost all the other missionaries “aunt” and uncle”. It really was like one big family…except we were all from different countries, had different accents, different views/opinions on certain things, and different life experiences to throw into the jumble. And yet we were family. Despite all those things that were different, there was the common thread of working together to bring glory to God and further his Kingdom. I know it’s not always easy for missionaries, but I think it’s in the those difficult times that they are often drawn even closer together.
5. The weather
Um, this whole post might have been inspired by the fact that I actually miss Niger weather. Anybody currently in Niger is rolling their eyes and saying, “she really has forgotten”….and I probably have, a little.
Niger is mostly desert…Sahara desert, to be specific. The livable region is technically called a savannah, but that’s just a fancy word for instead of so hot NOTHING grows, thorn trees can grow.
But it’s warm…all the time. And at the end of this very long and cold winter, I’m DONE, DONE, DONE with anything that does not involve heat.
I miss swimming 10 months out of the year, and having one sweatshirt on hand for those days when it gets *gasp* under 60 for an hour or two. Honestly, I miss sweating. I miss using my ceiling fan and drinking ice-cold ANYTHING. I miss stepping into an air conditioned room and immediately feeling the sweat freeze on my back. It sounds crazy…but I really do!
And hey…it’s always warm enough to have a water fight!
Niger, I miss you…I’m pretty sure I always will. I’m so thankful for the days and years that I was able to spend within your border, and I sure hope that one day life will take me in that direction again.