Saturday, August 6

Three Homecomings

Over the past two days people have started returning to Lynchburg. And we will have more homecoming over the next two weeks as the Montana crew and the Long Island Crew come back to the Riva Howse. This seems to have been a summer for absences.

The three homecomings so far have been very diverse. As different as the reasons for their departures.

The lastest return was one of the infamous Elva Sisters...Belva to be exact. She was chatty and full of pictures and stories from their trip to Alaska. Though I'm sure she was jet lagged and tired from travel - you could tell that they had a great time. I am certain that at some point I will see all 3000 pictures (or more) from the trip. The few that I saw just made me homesick for the Canadian Rockies. And I'll enjoy pictures from Melva, too. But I also know from experience that photographs can't capture the whole scale and majesty of the Western mountains. But they are wonderful ways to trigger the memory of that experience in the people who have been there.

I know that I will wander off in a few minutes to snag a pic or two from Google images - and that when I do, I will see views that are familiar from Canmore and Golden. And there will be one that will briefly take my breath away...and I will long to see the Rockies in person. But if you haven't been there - I am not certain that you would react in the same way. The images that I saw today of Denali are lovely - but to those who have seen her themselves - the image has a magical effect.

I also look forward to seeing pictures and hearing stories from another of our returned wanderers. Carl arrived back from Brazil on Thursday - exhausted and suffering from a cold-type thing. His homecoming has been a different kind of adjustment because he spent two weeks as part of a mission team - so he not only has the feeling of being in a foreign culture...he misses the group that became his family. I can only relate to that in a minor way - it seems like every time that I've been on a mission trip, there has been at least two of my immediate family there with me. The six team members went through a lot together - a lot of which may be impossible to verbalize.

The experiences that he has shared so far have been incredible - especially when he made fried bananas tonight for us at the Riva Howse. They were like no other fried banana that I have ever had. I've eaten bananas that were sauteed, caramelized, wrapped in won ton wrappers and deep fried...and this was unique. He basically crusted them in bread crumbs (first dusted in flour and dipped in egg the crust would stick) and then fried them in boiling oil. Then they were drained and rolled in sugar and cinnamon. Sounds so simple - tastes so awesome.

And he showed us some of the products from the fish leather project in/near Itapoa. Women from the village are crafting various items from the skin of the fish that would just be discarded. It is beautifully tanned and dyed. It was wonderfully soft. It is exciting to hear about a project like this that can help turn around the economic situation of families in these small coastal towns.

The third homecoming was that of my nephew Jack. He has spent the past 7ish weeks as a junior counselor at Camp Virginia (which is apparently what heaven is like...). I think that this will be a difficult transition. He said to me that his whole perspective of time has changed. That at the beginning - 7 weeks seemed like FOREVER and he couldn't believe that he was foolish enough to sign up to work both sessions. And that now - it seems like 7 weeks went by in a moment.

It will be tough to be separated from the new friends that became his family. Maybe he and Carl can help each other with that adjustment. They both feel like they've been dropped into a familiar foreign land.

Right now, it just doesn't feel quite right - they feel like they've been misplaced. Like they are supposed to be doing something else right now - but for some reason, they are home.

To a degree - I understand.

The disorientation will fade.

The memories - even if they have to be triggered by pictures or food - will remain.

Of that, I am certain.

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