31 July 2013

The "I Miss" Mantra

We are in the final hours.  We'll head to Kinshasa via Istanbul on Friday.  It's that time where the emotions are incredibly conflicted (i.e. hysterical sobbing during Downton Abbey is not really normal) and for me, at least, it means that I just want to get on the plane. The anticipation of the countdown is grueling. Lots of folks have written about the weirdness that goes into the nomadic goodbye - maybe they can explain our issues.

LouLou at this very moment. What the what?!
(Found as we were going through old stuff for the storage space).
Can we say "regression"?

Practically, however, we have to figure out how to pack our eight crates (these are the best should you ever be in the market for what airport personnel call "missionary trunks") full of the things we thought we would *need* for another year in Kinshasa.  Rolled oats, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap All-One, bug-proof food storage, hazelnuts, and Epi Pens have made the cut so far.  So did two boxes of macaroni and cheese.  And a ridiculously expensive candle.  Ahem.

So, while Johan does that (he likes it, weirdo), I'm thinking of the things I particularly miss about our life in Kinshasa.  Like:

1.) A routine.  They say children crave routines.  Well, so do adults.  I miss the ins and outs of our daily lives with all the people that includes - our neighbors, school friends, teachers, students, and mostly the Mamas.  I can't wait to catch up with these women whose lives intertwine with mine.  Facebook chat just doesn't cut it.

Mama Vida, LouLou, and Mama YouYou

2.) The porch.  I really love our porch. We eat breakfast out here every day.  French lessons take place here.  It's best during a rainy season downpour.

Tchic and Elias during French lessons.  (Tchic, I'm sorry I didn't email you in French like I was supposed to.)

Downpour at dusk.

2.)  Jambo Juice.  I've tried a variety of $11.99 cold-pressed-coconut-lemongrass-etcetera juices while in the States this summer.  Congolese-made Jambo Juice still wins.  Especially the lemon. Mmmm.  

Image from here.

3.) Pili pili by Mama Vida.  We're almost out of the gallon she made us to last the summer (yes, we carried hot sauce with us in our luggage).  

Hands of steel.

4.) French.  I miss French and Lingala.  I was truly sad when I heard LouLou playing in the other room with a group of dolls yesterday...speaking to them in English!  It's time to get back to a land of many languages.

5.) Dr. Laure's clinic.  There were a series of events last year that changed Dr. Laure's life and the plans Sarah and I had for regular visits to learn more about her work as an OB/GYN.  I am hopeful we will see her very soon.  I'm also eager to hear more from the doctors, nurses, and others working to build a new maternity hospital in Kinshasa.  Their work is so complicated and important.  

Construction at the maternity hospital.  June 2013.

I can't even begin to make the other list.  The list of everyone we will be leaving 7,000 miles behind for another ten months and what that means.  

So, the above five points become a mantra for the coming days.  One, two, three, four, five, and breathe.


  1. I just discovered your blog (through A Cup of Jo!) and love it! I'm an American living in South Africa (my husband is South African...we just got married this past December). I can COMPLETELY relate to what you are feeling. We just got back from visiting my family in the US for three weeks, and leaving is devastating. But every time I'm get back to SA, I think, "It's really not that bad." It's just the process of leaving that is heart-wrenching. Travel safe! :)

    1. It's a strange life, isn't it? Good luck to you as you settle back into your South African days. (Do you follow Miss Moss? (http://www.missmoss.co.za/) I was introduced to the blog the last time we were in Cape Town. Love it!)

  2. I sobbed hysterically through Downton Abbey, and while it was probably due to hormones (I was watching it with my newborn in my arms, if I remember correctly), it probably had a bit to do with what you've perfectly called the 'nomadic goodbye.' I found this corner of the internet through your feature on A Cup of Jo, too, and have spent the last 24 hours voraciously reading back through archives. Well, through as much of your archives as I can get to load, since I'm on a ship headed for (the other) Congo as I type, and internet in the middle of the ocean is patchy at best.

    I just want to say thank you for writing, for sharing your lives, and for making mine feel so much more normal. Since we live on the ship, not on land, there are lots of things that are different (no bugs, yay!), but so much of what you write about, from Vlisco billboards to raising babies in community, just makes me feel at home. I'll be here to stay. :)

    1. Um, that sounds ridiculously fascinating. On a ship to the other Congo!? We must learn more about you! Perhaps via a guest post. Email us!

    2. Am I ridiculous? Where's the e-mail address? (Gonna blame it on the internet if it was in plain sight the whole time...)

  3. this is so fabulous, i just discovered your blog through a cup of jo. my husband and i live in ecuador, we just passed the 2 year mark and are currently in the US visiting family. i completely understand everything you've talked about. i desperately miss my routine, and i even miss spanish (which is still very difficult for me after 2 years). i miss our friends and our apartment and the vegetable market. it's such a unique experience to have two "homes" and i love reading about other people's experiences. thank you for sharing. i will be visiting often!


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