Last year, I blogged about coming home on my blog, Confessions of a Homeschooler. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The memories of everything I'd experienced and everyone I'd met were so fresh and raw in my mind that I was reminded that I wasn't in Ethiopia almost every second. I knew the only way my depression would end would be as the memories grew dimmer, but I didn't want to forget! I was stuck and it was awful. But God was so faithful and lead me through the first two weeks of being home. Here's what I first wrote after getting home:
Hello America! Emma is now home from Ethiopia. I'm an exhausted, overwhelmed, sobbing mess. I'm not exactly sure why, but I haven't been able to stop crying since coming home. I met some of the most amazing people I've ever met while in Ethiopia and I made some of the best friends I've ever made and spent two weeks serving God in perfect weather and just like that, it's over. Saying goodbye to the Ethiopians was probably harder than saying goodbye to my family because I don't know if I'll ever see them again. I'll be doing something, like opening a bag of chips, and all of a sudden I'll realize that it's over and it's kind of overwhelming. I don't think it's really hit me that I'm back home. Part of me feels like any minute, Helena and his van will pull up and drive me through a dusty city to a church. But he's not.
I think God may be calling me to work in Ethiopia. Before my trip, I prayed that if God wanted me to serve him there, that he'd show me through this trip. And I'm pretty sure he did. I didn't get sick the entire time - not even when I ate "traditional bread" from a woman's cupboard with flies swarming around it, not even when I accidentally stuck my toothbrush under the water, not even when I went swimming in a green pool with little worms stuck to the side! I love the Ethiopians. And not just the ones I met - I could pretty much look at Ethiopians all day and not get tired of them. And the ones I did met were amazing. On the first day, we met the elders of the church we would be partnering with. These men are just beaming from head to toe, obviously men of God. They were so dignified, handsome, and godly. It was a joy just to be around them. Then they would tell us their testimonies and not one of them grew up in a Christian home. All of them had been on drugs, or part of a gang, or been in jail before. Then they encountered Christ and their lives completely and utterly changed. If I hadn't heard the testimonies from their own mouths, I never would have believed them. A man who used to be a "gangaster" (as the Ethiopians say it) and slept with girls now can't even talk in front of a group of people that his fiance is sitting in because he's so conscious that she's watching him and so desperate to say the right thing. It was such a joy and a privilege to hear their testimonies - that was probably my favorite part of the trip.
Like I said, coming home has been rough. I didn't get my usual amount of sleep on the trip, and then I missed an entire night flying home, so right now, I'm exhausted. Plus, after working with kids so much, seeing my sisters, and saying goodbye to my new Ethiopian family, I'm pretty emotionally drained. And lastly, I feel sort of useless all of a sudden and unsure of what to do. What do I do now that I'm back in Minnesota? Unpack? I need to know what to do. So the past two days have been rough. Even though I'm home, please keep praying for me. I miss Ethiopia a lot. This morning, during my devotions, God showed me a verse that I'd never seen before and that has been very encouraging with coming home:
(this was after Jesus healed the demon-possessed man)
"As he [Jesus] was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you." And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled." Mark 5:18-20.
I don't know why God didn't permit me to stay in Ethiopia, but that's okay. Apparently God knows that I'll serve him, and Ethiopia, better from Minnesota. My prayer is that all my stories and pictures and tears will show how much the Lord did for me while I was in Ethiopia and that all who hear and see will marvel.