Flying between the seasons is still a bit of a shock to the system. We left summery Santiago in January and arrived in Colorado to find a beautiful winter week. I love the snow and the crispness of CO winter, so it was delightful to drag Rayna into Ruth’s yard to build a snowman. Sure, she wanted to go inside after 2 minutes because her hands were cold, but it was so satisfying to get to breathe in real winter for a bit after missing it all through the holiday season.
Our trip home this time was two months, which was long and overly eventful. Jeff had work commitments that took him to Ethiopia, interviews in Arizona and Durango, and ended the trip with a conference in Boulder that tested his endurance but stoked his enthusiasm for the research he is a part of. We went as a family in late January to see the Freers in Oklahoma, and this was precious as Rayna is finally old enough to appreciate her cousins. She is one lucky lady, because even though all of her cousins are years older, they love her mercilessly and rarely let a minute go by without making sure she was having fun. This trip was also one for the memory books because we rented a sweet minivan, got a flat tire, and ate like college kids (Josh wisely packed skittles, doritos, and cookies, which put my fruit and vegetable stash to shame). While road tripping with a toddler takes some effort, it was a good time had by all in the end and I’m so thankful we were able to spend that time with family.
Our first weeks in Boulder were typically busy, and based at Ruth’s house as usual. While Jeff worked, Rayna and I jumped back into our social scene with fervor, which was incredible and exhausting. Being 20 weeks pregnant added an extra twist to this trip, both in prepping for the long travel hours and in the sense that I typically needed a nap. Luckily, Rayna hit her sleep stride from day one, so our afternoons were almost always reserved for the both of us to take a solid nap, which Ruth was usually down for as well! I loved grocery shopping (I know, that sounds so weird, but when you go from Chilean markets to Trader Joe’s, it feels like you’ve walked into crunchy heaven), precious evenings with the best of friends, and the ease of getting around Boulder and Denver where I’d spent so many years roaming in my Subaru.
And while so much of this trip was joyful, it was also a hard time of waiting for us. In fact, we have been in a season of waiting for quite a few months, unsure about what the next year would hold for us with job and baby and who knew what else. We spent this trip and the months before it grappling with the possibilities, so unsure of where our road would lead. And while we trusted that God would not lead us astray, we struggled with waiting for all the important facts to come in. Would our baby be healthy? Would a job change and move back home be the best choice? Would another year in Santiago be OK?
After a trip to Anacortes that held both a lot of stress and a lot of love and laughter with family and friends, we ended our journey with 10 days in Colorado. There, Rayna and I got the stomach flu, Ruth recovered from a broken hip, I worked my first full days in 18 months, and Jeff helped run a six-day long meeting preparing teams from 4 countries to implement systems research in water projects for USAID. It passed in a hazy flash, and all of a sudden, we were leaving winter and returning home. We were tired, we were ready, and we had a huge double stroller and infant car seat in addition to all our usual baggage. Flying back into summer, we spent a week readjusting, seeing great friends, finding our flip flops and remembering how perfect popsicles are after a trip to the park. With our big questions still before us, we knew one thing for sure…it was good to be home.