Sunday, April 29, 2018

Life After Furlough

Three months ago we returned from our ten month furlough. (For those wondering what 'furlough' looks like, this article explains it well.)

At the start of this time I was excited to live life in the UK, visiting new places and meeting people who I don't normally get to see. 

We had a great time finding snow in the Lake District along the Hardknott Pass, one of Britain's steepest roads.
However, by the end of last year I was very ready to return to the country where we serve overseas and was longing for the familiar.  I couldn't wait to leave behind all the stresses of furlough.  

The adjustment back to life in our host country wasn't the easiest thing ever though.  This was what it looked like for me:

Day 1:
So, so thankful to be home.  When we got close to our final destination I felt a burden lift as I let go of the travel-related questions:  Are our bags the right weight and size?  Will our suitcases fall apart?  Are we leaving enough time to get to the airport?  How will the transfer between terminals go in Australia?  Will our baggage make it?  Are we allowed to carry cheese into the country?  Which batteries do I need to keep in my carry-on?  Are we going to miss our connecting flight? 

Days 2 - 3:
It's been wonderful to spend the weekend with friends, some of whom we haven't seen for over two years.  I'm delighted to be home, and in a place where I have so many good friends living a few minutes' walk from my house. 

Week 1:
I'm reminded of the harder aspects of living here: People wanting financial help for legitimate causes; a cold virus caught while travelling; repairs that are needed in the house; walking up and down the hill in the hot sun or pouring rain; having a lot of musty belongings to take out of storage and find a home for.   But I'm still so happy to be home and so grateful to God that we were able to return.

Weeks 2 -3
Time to ease back into work.  Well, perhaps it would be better to focus on getting my house straight, but going to work is much more fun.  I'm glad to be getting back to my role here, and am looking forward to putting into practice the training I took on furlough.  I think I'm feeling settled...or at least that I'm almost there.

Weeks 4 - 5
Life is back to normal...sort of.  I'm still not feeling quite right emotionally.  The thought of paperwork that I still need to do can cause anxiety to rise in me fast; especially with financially-related topics.  I remind myself that God provided for us incredibly on furlough in sending the provision that we needed to return to the field and that he's not about to abandon us now.

A couple of friends have reminded me that it takes a while to fully adjust after an international move.  That's the kind of advice I would give to someone else; I forget to apply it to myself though!

I'm still so relieved to be back here.

Week 6:
I really am feeling better this week!  Although our furlough went well overall, with some wonderful moments spent with people we love, it was still tiring and stressful; part of this could have been avoided if I'd made different choices.  But the fact is that I didn't return to our country of service in the most refreshed state; it's really not surprising that my body and mind have taken a while to recover and feel normal again.  

I think I now have the capacity to start typing the blog posts that I've been writing in my head!

Month Four:
I'm finally getting around to sorting out the cupboards that I threw items into when we first got back.  It certainly makes daily life easier when I know where to find and put things.  I don't think I've yet managed to have the whole living area tidy at one time yet, but that goal is now looking realistic rather than overwhelming.  I think I'll get there before our next furlough ;-)

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