Russ here. I go home tomorrow. I've been thinking a lot about the past 6+ months, and here are some general observations...
1. I've been here half as long as Katie.
In thinking about my visits down here, it's cool to think that I've accumulated about 3 months of time down here. So although I have spent a great deal of time in the US alone, it's not been as much alone time as you'd think. And of my 3 extended visits, 2 of them were surprises to me: the second was a birthday gift that a bunch of church friends chipped in to surprise me with, and the third (this trip) was a surprise gift from the staff and families of Bridgeway Elementary, where Katie used to teach. Thanks so much to all of our friends who have given so much to allow me to visit my family. Words cannot describe how meaningful these visits have been to all of us!
This is us doing our "Out of PGN Dance"
2. I've not missed as much BIG stuff as you'd think.
Sure, I didn't get to see the finale of LOST or American Idol. But Bob Seibel Tevo-ed LOST for me, and Melinda was voted off American Idol before I left, so that wasn't even worth watching. No, I mean with Eliot. With my 3 months worth of visits, check out this list of stuff I got to be here for: Eliot's first Christmas, New Year's (and we DID watch college football all day), El's first time saying "da-da," Katie's Birthday, Easter (which is the biggest time of year in Guatemala), my birthday, Eliot's first time to pull himself up by himself, teaching him to high-5, cutting his first tooth, and the day we got the call that we're out of PGN. Really the only thing I missed was Mother's Day and El's 1st Birthday, and Katie had friends from home here to celebrate those. Not to mention the fact that I attended his birthday party via webcam. I've seen him make so many strides and learn so many new things. All in all, not too shabby. And again, I got to experience all of this because of the generosity of our friends and family at home.
Rock Star or Zoolander?
3. GOD has spoken. We have been taught more than we could ever imagine or say. About ourselves, about GOD, about life, about people. We have learned about humility, patience, hardship, heartache, joy, parenthood, love, community, generosity, hope, disappointment, and faith. We have been broken, convicted, stretched and challenged more than we ever would dare ask. We have endured more than we ever thought possible. Our marriage and love for one another has been deepened and strengthened. We have learned the boundless love of God and His people. We have learned how important one life is, not just to us, but to the body of Christ. We have learned we have way more friends and loved ones than we ever knew. Jeff Peters recently told me that his favorite thing about baptising a baby at Greentree is the part where the church stands and pledges to love and support the family and their child and encourage and guide them in the ways of God. He said that the coolest thing about this is that our church has already put that commitment into action before ever even laying their eyes on Eliot. I would agree. Everything we've been able to do to bring him home has only been possible through the care and support of our family and friends. El has more people loving and praying for him than he'll ever know, and he's not even set foot in the US yet. I keep telling him to run for mayor, because he's easily the most popular person in St. Louis these days.
Vote for Eliot Mohr, 2008!
4. Some other cool things:
I've seen 2 volcanoes erupt. A new friend and I climbed one, the other I saw at night from our rooftop patio. Couldn't have done that at home. I've made tons of new friends from all over the US and even the globe. You can only imagine how many Katie has made. I've had the world's greatest french fries (Mono Loco) and the world's greatest fajita (Frida's). As mentioned before, I've experienced 3 major holidays in a foreign country (Christmas, New Year's and Easter). All of them were unfogettable experiences. Some of the most beautiful parts of creation I've ever seen have been right here. And, my favorite: when I walk into Cafe 2000 (home of the best burritos in the world) Cesar knows exactly what I want. And when I go to & Cafe (best coffee on the planet... and coffee is SO CHEAP here!), once Gabriela knows I want a grande white mocha, mint chocolate mocha for Kate. Perfecto. Yeah, we're locals (side note: Katie just called me an "American" the other day in a very sarcastic, insulting tone. She's definitely a local.)
My two favorite people.... COMING SOON!
Katie will be home in a couple short weeks. It's wierd to think that this is my last visit here for probably a long time. I'm getting used to coming here often. I like coming here. It's like a home away from home now. I can only imagine how strange this all is for Katie. But we'll be back again for lots of family vacations. I can only imagine what awaits us as we bring Eliot into Greentree for the first time, or when we stand up in front of our church family to have him baptised. I've played it over and over in my head, and each time it is more beautiful. And now it's REALLY going to happen. Very soon!