return to Oz

It’s been over a month since my last blog post. Between my last post and this one, I’ve said “Adios” to Ecuador, and “Hello” (again) to Australia.

So two years as a missionary in southern Ecuador are over, I am back home in Australia … with a job to boot!

And it’s strange because it’s been quite easy to slip back seamlessly into life here, though it’s also probably too soon to tell how much I’ve changed, or how things will go in the future. I’ve managed to see some old friends, and my round of sharing about my experience will start soon.

Here’s a semi-coherent breakdown of the last month and where things are at …

July was just NUTS.

Officially, I stopped work at El Sendero, although I did try and hang out there often and take advantage of the fact I wasn’t rostered on to simply sit and chat with people. There were a string of farewells, starting on 30 June with a party for the Spotlight English ministry, and including trips to see friends in Gonzanamá and Quito. It was lovely to be able to pray for my friends.

However, travelling left me with just one week in Loja to tidy up affairs and say goodbye to all my friends there. I discovered I know a lot of people. I’m not usually a cryer, but cry I did. All the farewells were difficult and beautiful at the same time. But it was so hectic, I was left wanting for more. The last few days it felt like I was running around from one group of friends to another, not getting as much time with each as I would’ve liked, and not getting much sleep to be honest!

The trip home is a tale in itself.

On my last day in Loja, I rushed from El Sendero to my house where a friend was already waiting to take me to the airport. I didn’t even have time to sort everything out at Sendero or with my room at home.

I happened to be on the same flights with another SIM missionary family, from Loja to Guayaquil, and Guayaquil to Miami, so it was nice to have company leaving Ecuador. I even got to have a final catch up with a few Guayaquil friends the night before our 7am flight out of the country.

It was in Miami that things got complicated. Massive line in immigration, I was in the middle somewhere, but by a streak of bad luck in the way they split the line for foreigners, I ended up getting through pretty much next to last. Which meant I missed my connecting flight to Los Angeles. They put me on the next flight out, the following hour. At this stage I still had buffer time, a number of hours in LA before the Sydney flight. We boarded the plane, and were then advised of a problem with the air-conditioning. We unboarded, having been told it would be a 45 minute wait. It was in fact a 5-6 hour wait, during which they fixed the technical problem, but the airline staff had gone home and they had to find new crew.

They changed my ticket to get me on the later flight out of LA, but by the time we arrived, it was too late to get on that last flight out – I missed it by maybe 10-15 minutes. So I was put up in a hotel till the next flight, the following night. This gave me an entire day in LA, so I made the most of it and took a tour.

The LA-Sydney flight was good, even being in the second last row. We arrived on time – but my luggage didn’t come with me. They paged me about it, but I didn’t hear the call, so I was waiting and waiting, and by the time I thought of asking the staff about my baggage and they told me it was coming on a different flight, I missed my connecting flight to Canberra. Again, no problems, they just put me on a later flight. So I arrived home an hour later than expected, and I was told my things would be delivered to my home later in the day.

My luggage came in the evening. But my beautiful custom-made guitar case was damaged beyond repair – it looks like someone got a knife to it, really hacked it up! The guitar itself is only slightly damaged, it should be fairly easy to fix, but I am really upset about the case, which was made specially by a luthier in Loja.

So now I’m home.

Yet to experience reverse culture shock (which I was expecting). Yet to fully process everything.

Enjoying the cold. Enjoying driving. Enjoying seeing old faces again. Enjoying good Australian wine!

Working a casual copy-editing job.

Gradually repacking my room. Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of STUFF I have.

But, what’s next?

I wish I knew! But as I say to anyone and everyone who asks me, I’m not terribly worried about what happens next, because I know it’s in God’s hands, and that His plans are good 🙂 Till then, I will keep praying and taking each day as it comes.

I’ll continue to process my time in Ecuador. It was a rich experience, that gave me a lot of insight into the nature of ministry, and taught me a lot about how God works, and about myself (how I work).

But a close friend and fellow missionary told me – when we said goodbye in Loja – take a break when you go back, don’t jump straight into ministry. And it’s good advice because I see now that I am tired – emotionally and/or spiritually more so than physically. I have been for several months now, and I didn’t realise it.

And what’s next for this blog? I made this blog in order to share about my experiences on the mission field, and I’ll include my post-mission experience too. Then … who knows what adventures are ahead?

Header image: Christopher Burns.

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