surprises, fall, and home

Well, I write this after we regained power and internet access after being disconnected yesterday.

I write with such a full heart - my grandparents sent a package about a month ago and my parents sent a package probably two months ago and they both arrived the this weekend (I would give anything to see the route of said packages - I'm pretty sure at one point they are carried on the backs of sherpas across the mountain ranges)!!

Every time I open any package or mail, I am overwhelmed with a sense of being known. Have you ever received a gift or encouragement or even just a note - and only certain people in your life could know that it was just exactly what you needed? I've had several of those moments lately. Of course, on my birthday, my sister brought an absolute downpour of cyber-loving by way of encouraging notes on this blog. My grandma sent in her package sugar-free candies (a personal favorite and such things are still very strange here:), decaf coffee (also unheard of), and a beautiful assortment of teas. How blessed! And then my mom, who knows me all too well, sent a very personalized package that couldn't have touched any closer to my heart. A slinky... even a slinky to remind and encourage my quirky, spontaneous side. It was just exactly the thing I didn't know I wanted. Does that make sense?

So, needless to say, my spirits are high. Recently, I've been thinking so much about the season of fall. Here in Tegucigalpa there are two seasons: hot season and rainy season. Right now it rains pretty much every day and can even be chilly. Though the students protest, I LOVE the idea of layers, jackets, and (YES) galoshes! If ever anyone chances to ask about this season in the States, they are privileged to hear my endless stories of bonfires, hot dog roasts, late night adventures, football games, harvest time, and garden fresh produce. I can almost taste the apples and peaches my grandma is right now picking, peeling, and pie-making. Mmmm!

I'm not really sure how people define 'homesickness' or 'culture shock,' but I'm pretty sure mine comes and goes in waves. It's never too much to bear, but always rocking to and fro in my mind. More than anything, a love for people swells in the empty places of my heart. Little things on top of little things - like apple pie and coffee on my grandparents deck or drinking apple cider with the fam on a lazy Sunday or going on a walk with Meg under autumn leaves or ... well, there are many of these little things on top of little things that amount to my love for people who do not live near to me.

But, the Lord is teaching me more about home. Every year, it seems, my idea of family, home, and community grows a bit bigger. Last year at this time, I was writing from Austin about the distance between Texas and Iowa. And this year, I'm a few miles farther South. In any case, the Lord goes before me and remains beside me, as I remain in Him. Today, we cooked lunch and invited my favorite maintenance man, Jose, as well as the couple who live just below us. Over spaghetti, salad, and homemade bread (a surprising success made from brown rice flour, wheat flour, and a few other ingredients), we talked and laughed in broken Spanish.

Who knows where I will call 'home' next year or the year following? I just know that today I am content to be right here where He has called me.