Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Home for the Holidays
Coming home to the United States for Christmas was both enlightening and confusing. I think it "re-charged" my batteries to give another go in South Africa, while still reminding me that Home is where the Heart is. Seeing family and friends was like a wrinkle in time for me. I have been gone for nearly 10 months, and yet everything seemed like it stood still while I was gone. Even though everyone carried on with their lives..people made great strides in careers, many friends gave birth to their new little ones, and some people grew apart. It still seemed like Home was home, and I will never forget the smells, tastes and feels of CHRISTmas in Michigan.
I was wishing for a "White Christmas" and I think I got a little more than what I had bargained. How beautiful though! The snowstorms kept coming and coming, and coming! There is truly no better feeling than being completely snowed in. Although, sometimes it does interfere with your plans...especially when it takes you 1 hour and 45 minutes to come home from the mall for last minute Christmas shopping. ;-)
Anyway, as wierd as it sounds...One thing I looked forward to the most was my parents pellat stove that they use to keep the downstairs of our house warm. It makes the most relaxing noise, and keeps you nice and toasty during the cold winter months. I curled up in front of that thing, and took naps like it was my greatest concern during my time home. How lovely.
Of course, I was able to see family and friends. In fact, I beleive that this trip was more succesful than I thought it would ever be. I literally got to see most, if not all, of my extended family (at least on the Rodenhouse side). It was the best. I loved being able to see my last remaining Grandmother. She is so special to me and I think and pray for her often.
I also was able to see many of my best friends. This blog post is a little tribute to the people I saw while I was home. Each visit was so special to me. And for the people I didnt get to see while I was in the states...I will make good on it the next time I am in the States.
My father and I where able to do some serious bonding together. We went, snow-shoeing as well as skiing and snowboarding together. Of couse, he was on skis and I was on a snowboard. It was fantastic. The snow was so deep that my brother's dog could barely make it through the snow! he had to jump from each snow-shoe track that my father and I had laid. How funny! My father hadnt skied since the last time we where in Colorado at Winter Park. He mentioned how great it was to pick up the sport again. He says he wants to continue with outdoor winter sporst. Especially in Michigan, where there is an abundance of natural beauty to be seen. I hope he keeps up with it.
Another highlight of being home for the holidays was meeting my new baby nephew for the first time. Baby Ethan, or "baby-E" for short. He is the new pride and joy of my brother and sister-in-law. What a lovely Child. The first picture is of me meeting him for the first time. Needless to say, we had a couple of things to say to eachother. He's got a full head of brown/black hair just like I did when I was born. I can't wait to see him again!
I was fortunate to catch up with a man that I care for so much. I say "catch-up" quite literally becuase this is the busiest Catholic Priest I know. Bob Deland and I where able to spend an evening talking about the many experiences we've had lately. The last time I had seen him was when he visited me in Cape Town. We where fortunate enough to travel through Europe and some of Northern Africa together before I moved to SA. He's a cool man and has a huge heart for the missions...in fact, get this...he brought and organized nearly 30 people from his Parish in Bay City, Michigan to come to the middle of Zambia, Africa to do missions work. This was about 5 months ago. A boy asked him "Father, won't you come back and baptise me?" Now, it's no easy task to get to the middle of Africa...but he is making good on his promise and will be traveling there in the begining of February to baptise this boy. I think thats one heck of a story! there is a real movement in this world to do good, and its spreading! Well done Bob. Thanks for leading by example!
None-the-less, leaving home and traveling back to Africa was rather difficult. I didn't think my mother was going to let me leave. I'm also not much of a cryer, but there where certainly tears on my cheeks as I stepped away from my family in the Grand Rapids airport. It was no easy task. One of the pictures posted was from the last moments with my family. Words can't really describe how much I love them. They are so very supportive of me. And that means all the world to me. Thank you, if any of you are reading this. I coudn't do this without your blessing.
So now its back to the "real life" back in South Africa. Whatever that is. It's summer here and the beaches are packed. I can see the beach perfectly from my house, and I can tell if the waves are rideable. This weekend there is a good swell and an offshore wind, so I think I will go surfing. Keep well everyone. I promise to be more faithful with my blog postings. I know I've been slacking.
Derek Van Dam