Transition is ummm....awkward...(insert awkward pause for extra emphasis).
I should know since TRANSITION defines my life since I coming back from 3 years of serving as a missionary in Perú. I finally landed back on my home planet. It sorta feels like I've been gone to a different planet these last three years. A book that I read about reverse culture shock referred to it as re-entry. RE-ENTRY is the term for the stress and strain the space shuttle faces when going back down into the earth's atmosphere.
Why so much fire? Why can't the descent be easy? This country has been all that I've known for thirty years prior to living in Perú. How can three years lived in a different country make you feel so DIFFERENT? There haven't been too many extreme changes since I've been gone (maybe a new president and problems in the economy). The people look the same, the language and culture is the same, and everything is very familiar. So why do I feel so strange here??
I think it is the disconnect that happens when you live somewhere different and return to where you used to live. You may have changed a lot but things seem the same back on the "ranch." You've slowly been getting used to life lived differently with a different culture, climate and people. It may be a very subtle change that you can't see on the outside but living in another country really affects who you are and maybe even how you act and think.
This whole experience has felt like a crash landing. Have you ever seen the cartoon Duck Tales? It used to be one of my favorites! It has a character names Launchpad McQuack who just can't seem to land a plane right. He usually ends up crashing it. Here's a typical conversation between him and his boss Scrooge McDuck.
Scrooge McDuck: Launchpad, is this a stunt you learned in flight school?
Launchpad: Flight school?
Scrooge McDuck: You mean you *never* took flying lessons?
Launchpad: [lunkishly] Well, I took a crash course.
Scrooge McDuck: Now he tells me.
Somehow, when coming back to the states I felt like I climbed on Launchpad's plane and had no choice but to crash land. I felt emotionally overwhelmed and it was hard even to define why. Sure there were a lot more choices at the grocery store and there was snow and I was driving a car again. Maybe I did miss living in Cusco, the beauty of the mountains and the culture/people I had grown to love. But I think for me it had more to do with disconnect - coming back and not having a place in society. I had no personal home to go to, no job, no car and felt disconnected from my church, friends and acquaintances. That feeling of disconnect isn't one bit lovely.
Thankfully after my crash landing, I had friends around to help brush me off. Friends who took me in to live with them, who lent me their car and happily listened to my stories of Perú. Friends who love and encourage me, who worry about how I'm doing and tell me to come over when I'm feeling lonely. But most of all, I have a God who does not change and is with me wherever I go. I have a God who gives my life meaning no matter how disconnected I am from the world around me, who crashes with me and helps me to crawl out of the plane and keep on going!