One of the best parts of my job is relationship building. It is 100% part of my job to hang out with people–to have lunches, coffees, play games, and practice my Ukrainian.
You certainly should be.
Yesterday, I had lunch with one of our girls. Relationship building…. mmmmm yummy waffles. She asked me the question I seem to be getting a lot lately, ‘Are you ready to go home?’
My answer, may have been less graceful than I had desired, but publicly, let me try to find the grace.
The simple answer is no. I’m not ready to go home yet. There are so many things here that I love so much. People, food, culture, my hammock, the community, and, if you catch me on a good day, I even love the language.
The thing is, this hasn’t been the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Ya know, in training, they warn you that it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be hard to be away from loved ones. That you will go through times of loneliness and homesickness, blah blah blah.
Let me tell you, as a person who doesn’t really experience homesickness, that it has been astronomically harder than I could have ever imagined. Meh sometimes I’m loney, whatever, and yeah I miss people from home, but homesickness isn’t something I really do. We’ve always moved around and lived far from family, you adapt.
When I first arrived here, there weren’t nights where I pinned for home (well there was that one night when they told me my Grandma was sick). Though I walked around in a bit of a haze for two days, didn’t know up from down or what that sign said, I feel like I transitioned pretty well. No tears, no sleepless nights, easy peasy.
Well then what’s been so hard you may be asking.
Working in another culture is hard.
Working as a Protestant Christian in a hugely Orthodox place (where they think that we are a cult) is hard.
Ukrainian is HARD.
Working in a multi-lingual workplace/city, is hard.
Fighting the urge to hide in your apartment when there’s a meter of snow on the ground is hard.
Being the most liberal person you work with is real hard.
This work isn’t for sissies. This is not just me, all of my colleagues face their own set of hardships. I am so blessed in so many ways, and this blog isn’t negating those blessings, but simply saying this crap is hard. I know, too, that you might read that list above and say, ‘psh you’re a wussy, there’s nothing hard about that.’ To you I say, go away, this is my blog.
Here’s the thing. It is hard. Most of the time I feel like I am banging my head against a wall while simultaneously running around in a circle, but I love it. Anyone who knows me well, knows I love a fight. I love a good argument. I love being stretched and shaped, and stretching and shaping others.
This all reminds me of one my favorite movies. Have you ever seen a League of Their Own, if not, shame on you! Jimmy Dugan says to Dottie:
It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.
The hard IS what makes it great. The challenges that each of us meet each day is what makes getting out of bed worth it. This life that I and others have chosen isn’t for everyone. It isn’t for either of my sisters, my mother, my uncles, and that’s ok.
This hard is what I’ve chosen, and what’s great about that is that it makes the good even better. It makes for more sacred moments than I can contain, more happiness than I’ve ever known, and more peace the stillness of night. I’ve found love, hope, and perspective that I’ve never before experienced, and I am so happy to be here. I am so blessed to be afforded the opportunity to be so blessed.
So no, I’m not yet ready to be home. It will certainly be easier when I do go home, but I will, for as long as I am able, continue to experience the sacredness and fullness of my life here in Ukraine. I will continue to dwell in the hard to experience the fruits of the struggle, and boy are they sweet.