Josh beat me to posting our emotional process. I began working on this post one week into our trip but due to the area we were in, I couldn’t continue until now. My competitive nature told him I needed to post mine first. I cried before him! It’s silly, but there it is. Anyway…
We are now over two weeks into our journey. While it’s good to be on this adventure that we feel God has called us out on (and we are already learning so much!) I (Mel) have been surprised by the emotions that came over me the minute we drove away. I never expected to feel a deep sense of sadness and loneliness. It made sense to cry when we left as we said good-bye to our loved ones but to continue to cry, actually, sob, even now has caught me off guard. I’ve been wrestling and struggling with it. It’s been wonderful exploring together and having this focused family time but I miss my family, my friends, and my community.
Eva saw me crying and asked why I was so sad. I told her I missed my friends and family. She said I didn’t need to be sad because we had their pictures up in our motor home. I could just look at them and not miss them. I gave her a hug and thanked her. I didn’t tell her it’s not the same. I’m so glad we have pictures up but I miss talking to everyone. I miss seeing them all. I miss hugging them and just being with them.
I met a woman at the first campground we stayed at who had a “Fulltime Families” t-shirt on. I recognized the name from the Facebook group I was told about and joined before we left. It’s a group for nomadic families who have made traveling around a full-time lifestyle. I mentioned I was part of the Facebook group and she told me there was actually a membership we could be a part of. She said it’s a way for them to have community while traveling. Twice a year they plan a big meet-up somewhere in the country. They’ve made friends they run into here and there and even travel with another family now. Her comments had me reflecting on community ever since.
I’ve always believed we were made for community. The emotional process I’ve been going through has only confirmed that belief. We’re not meant to live this life alone. We need our villages, our tribes, to help us raise our kids, to try out different ideas on, to share our food with, to encourage and cry with in hard times, to laugh together. Even the kids sense this. They have cried over missing friends and wish they could play with them.
We have truly been blessed with such an amazing community. From our best friends and their 4 kids who have lived with us for 5 years now, to our families close by, to our school community and neighborhood, to our church community, we live in a wonderful place with wonderful people all around us.
My time as a volunteer Child Ambassador with World Vision has given me the opportunity to visit and learn about other communities and cultures around the world. My two trips to Africa have shown me how important community truly is. Even in the midst of extreme poverty, they have each other. The Ugandan people have even been named the happiest people in the world in spite of their poverty. I’ve reflected many times on how over resourced we are in the US and yet we have a deficit in community in our culture. The bigger our homes, the more technology we have, the more independence and self-reliability we think we have the more isolated we become, not just from our community but from our very own families that we live with. With isolation comes loneliness, depression, addiction, and more. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert but I have witnessed this many times and experienced it some. We have much to learn from other cultures and people.
I have reflected more on those who have been driven from their homes; refugees from Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the DRC, and other war torn countries. How horrible and devastating to not only be forcibly pushed out from your homeland but to also be separated from your loved ones never to know if you will ever see them again. The leaving of our community is nothing compared to what they are going through, but it does give me more empathy for what anyone who has had to leave their home, family, and community must be feeling.
So, this adventure comes with a variety of emotions, reflections, and processes already. As I mentioned before, I’m glad to be on this 10 month journey, but I don’t believe this is for us as a full-time life-style. I need my people, we need our people. I truly can’t wait until I get to hug everyone again. When that time comes, expect lots of tears from me. But that time it will be tears of joy to finally be with them again.