There and Back Again

It’s slowly sinking in…the fact that I am actually home.

I’m back in the world of very busy people, where Facebook and Internet are constantly, easily accessed and freshly brewed coffee, Greek yogurt and never-ending choices are available at all times of the day.

It’s almost like I’m on the peripheral, though, watching as the world whirls by.

Like those scenes in movies when one person is standing still while everything else around them rushes by in flashes of color, while they stand there, wide-eyed, pondering.

It feels like a dream.

Everything is so strangely and eerily familiar, so normal, and yet at the same time, different.
I am not the same person who left.
The Jess who left Minnesota in September 2012 is not the same one who returned.
But at the same time, I am still me.
I can’t quite pinpoint the changes yet.
Hehe. This conundrum brings to mind such a wise, hilarious Thai saying, “Same same but different.”
It’s pretty accurate.

Throughout these past few days, a lot has happened.

I’ve said goodbye to my squad and my team and said hello again to home.

There are several moments ingrained in my memory.

The moment J Squad touched down on U.S. soil…and were greeted with this amazing sign by Amber’s mom.

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

The moment we celebrated Amber’s birthday in style, as the last thing our team did together.

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

The moment my team had to say goodbye to each other.

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

The moment I rounded the corner of Terminal 2 in Minneapolis, finally, after a delayed flight that caused me to miss my connection (true to World Race styleFrom jesseischens.theworldrace.org).

The sound of the cheers of my friends and family as I made my way toward them.
The smile on my mom’s face as she ran to hug me.
Hearing my dad say, “Welcome home, kiddo.”

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

The sight of my grandparents, sisters and brothers, glittery signs and balloons.

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Wrapped up in embrace after embrace…these long-awaited hugs I have been looking forward to since I left 11 months ago.

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Such an amazing reward. It makes all of the travel and the waiting worth it.

Goodbyes are what make hellos so much sweeter.

Goodbyes are also the hardest part of going.
Just because we’re called to go doesn’t mean it’s easy. It probably doesn’t mean it will get easier.

When I left for the Race, saying goodbye to family and friends here in Minnesota was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

And on the flipside, saying goodbye to 55 people who have become like family was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Saying hello again to my loved ones eases the pain, but doesn’t make it go away completely.

I have this feeling.
This “there and back again” feeling.
This wondering…if this is what my life is going to be.
A constant mess of goodbyes and hellos.
A constant battle with tears and aches, in order to follow my God on this journey He has me on.

But the one thing that keeps me goin’ is this: Goodbyes are not for forever. They never are.

So here I am. On the Minnesota side of there and back again.
Now the waiting has begun for what the Lord will tell me is “next.”
Want to read about why I’m waitin’? Go check out my God is a Gentleman blog.
Basically, He’s told me to wait and let Him open the doors for me. So wait, I will.

Thank you for all of your support and prayers as I journeyed through this World Race adventure.

Stay tuned for more processin’, I’m sure there will be lots and lots!

Love y’all!!!! From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

 

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