Grabbing my keys, I head out the back door. The flower garden looks lovely as I walk by, displaying my husband's fine work. Our Prius sits in the garage waiting behind a garage door that opens with the push of a button. Backing up, I think back to my life for the past six weeks and marvel at what I have taken for granted for so many years. Jumping in a car and going where I want to go. Understanding the language. Not having to wait for a bus. Not having to walk up or down flights of stairs to get to my home. Clean water out of our faucet. Orderly laws to keep us safe. No fear in mentioning the word, "missionary" or "Christian." Many beautiful houses, with lawns and a car or two parked in each driveway. No towering apartment buildings. Children in car seats. Dogs on leashes. Eating with forks. Air conditioning everywhere. Cleanliness expected. Toilet paper furnished. Every breath fills me with fresh air that is not a danger to my body.
This is a re-entry into what feels like home...but with a twist. Home today has the added awareness that most people in the world do not have order, cleanliness, safe air, fresh water or enough money.
While in China there were times I longed to be back home, for the comfort of the familiar. But today the commonplace has a tinge of shame attached to it. Not guilt for what is, but rather a regret for not understanding the way most of the world lives. Our Chinese friend marveled at how we Americans have leisure time. He says that the Chinese can only work and then at the end of the day they do what they can to forget that tomorrow there is only time for work again.
As my body struggles to get back into this time zone and readjusted to our food, I want to settle my mind in thankfulness that my eyes have been opened. Living elsewhere for over five weeks taught me, in a fresh way, new things that I didn't know I didn't know. I now have sweet faces attached to my thoughts about the place and I care deeply about their lives.
Not having to wait for the bus, I pull out of our driveway and quickly make my way down the street. Not many people are walking there and no one honks at me. My mind wanders. What can I do to not forget? How will I live now? How do I really need to pray?