July 24, 2012

Homeward Bound

I don't know how many hours I had been awake at this point . . . but it was hard to sit still on the plane, out of anxiety and anticipation.

At one point I glanced out the window and I remember seeing a thunderstorm . . . such a cool sight as lightning surged through a cloud that you're looking down on . . . I just hoped that we weren't going to fly through it.

Our plane touched down in Miami and I sang "God Bless America." Man, I could have kissed the ground.

It was pretty somber in the airport seeing as it was after 2am at this point. Our flight wasn't going to leave MIA until 10:15am. As soon as I had the chance, I called home. It was about 3am. My mom answered the phone the way she always does: "Hey sweetie . . ." and tears welled up in my eyes once again. I cannot convey what a relief it was to be back in the states, and to finally hear her voice. Choked up, I told her how wonderful it was to hear her voice . . . and then updated her on our situation, promising to call her at a more decent hour later.

We processed through the airport and then camped out near American Airlines . . . a box of donuts, a few hours and a whole hot mess later, we were on the way to our gate. I tried to sleep, again, in vain . . . and started to feel worse than I do after working a week of night shifts at the hospital.
Once boarding began, I was in disbelief that we were actually, finally going home. I was so excited, but exhausted in every way possible!

Our plane landed in RDU at 12:30 on Saturday. I had not slept at all. We had traveled for almost 24 hours straight.

I thought my parents were just going to circle around outside and pick me up at the curb . . . but walking towards baggage claim, I looked up and saw the concerned face of my mom . . . and my dad staring off somewhere. I got so excited and practically ran to her! Emotion took hold of me again but I didn't want to cry anymore. I knew she was extremely relieved to have her daughter back safely, and I was relieved just to be back, period. And to get a hug from my mom :)

I told my parents that I have never, ever been happier to be back in North Carolina. I wanted to eat American food, I loved the way this country looked and smelled. Everything was so clean. Everything was so big. We have an economy. We have paved roads. I have a house - what?

I opened the door to my house and just stared in awe . . . I swear you would've thought I was on some kind of substance (maybe it was all of the sleep deprivation). I just stopped in the doorway and stared . . . my house, I have a house, it smells so nice in here, it's so clean and big . . . ohmygosh I have my own bathroom . . . it's just so CLEAN . . . I ran my hands along the wall as I climbed the stairs to my ginormous room. I could not believe I was back. It was just so clean here! Are you sure I really live here? really? No, seriously . . .

I could have kissed the ground again. Oh, the relief that flooded my soul. And then the exhaustion set in from lengthy travel and being out of the country for 8 days. I felt physically sick from it all.

There were times during the trip where it seemed like we had been there for 2 weeks, or even a month - but at the same time, that week flew by. We just experienced soo much during that time. There were times during the trip that I knew I wanted to come back on another short-term trip, but right then all I could think about was how much I loved North Carolina, America, my life here, the way it smells and looks and feels and just is. I never wanted to leave again.

I tried to sleep 4 hours, but that didn't work out so well. My mom came over, we made dinner, had some of my favorite wine and then one of my absolute favorite pastimes - got frozen yogurt. I love America. God bless America and frozen yogurt and North Carolina. Praise Jesus. God bless America.

I started to tell stories from the trip, in lengthy detail. If I told the whole story, it took about 2 or 2 1/2 hours. Complete with an emotional breakdown during the description of House of Hope, which is totally appropriate.

I crashed that night, shortly after 9pm. I could finally sleep . . . but I felt like royalty. Coming back from a third world country, this was a little bit of a re-adjustment. I was clearly in awe of how clean and big everything is here. I felt like an American princess that night as my body collapsed under the weight of a week in Nicaragua, seeing God's power on display, having my eyes opened to extreme poverty, injustice, and starting to gain a new perspective.

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