Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Time To Say Goodbye
(If you follow this road up and veer to the right, our home is just around that bend)
I know I haven't been perfectly forthcoming in my comments about our visit home, but after repeated emails and Facebook confrontations I thought it was about time to come clean. After close to 2 years living in Malaysia we have bought one-way tickets back to the United States at the end of the month. (Holy moly, that's in 2 weeks!! So much to do...) We do have tentative (and hopeful!) plans to return next summer to Asia for a scuba diving visit if our finances will allow, but for the immediate future we are planning to once again take up residence in Utah. And while we are anxious to be back near our family and friends we left behind, we find ourselves grieving for the friends and life we will now leave behind in Malaysia. We have come to truly love this place and our lives here, we are loathe to leave our friends that we love, we are dreading having to leave the warm weather behind and brace ourselves for cold temperatures and dry desert air, and we are deeply saddened at the thought of leaving the country we have learned to call home.
I can hardly imagine going weeks at a time without eating a fresh mango. I can't imagine wearing socks every day. (I can't imagine wearing socks at all...I don't remember the last time I did. My kids don't even own a single pair.) I can't imagine having to drive 13 hours through 3 states to get to the nearest beach. I can hardly bear to think about leaving our beloved food stalls, curry shops, outdoor markets, authentic ethnic restaurants (banana leaf, i will miss you!!!), and the warm, lush, dense, green jungle that now surrounds our home. Of course it comes with drawbacks as well: snakes, civets, roaches, mosquitoes...but all of those things have made our experience more raw, more real, and more memorable.
We have probably learned more about our family than I can ever put into words. I have learned more about people, about the nature of selflessness, and about the intangible, transient nature of our possessions than I ever imagined. In fact, I didn't imagine it. If I had never lived here, I never would have realized what I was missing, or that there were eternal principles I barely knew existed. I am sure some of the most powerful lessons learned here, what I will take back with me and will stay with me for the rest of my life, will be the examples I was shown by others. The natures of sacrifice, stewardship, charity, and consecration have been further opened to my view through the loving example of friends, and occasionally strangers, who have truly shown us a better way to live. I hope I can be a better person for having lived here. If I can use those lessons and apply them to our family for the rest of our lives, it will have been worth a hundred times the money it cost us to come here. This has been one of the most valuable education I've received, along with my LDS mission, in terms of the life-lessons taught and the improvement made to my own quality of life. Just like any principle, though, it will depend upon my own practical application and ability to put into daily practice the things I've learned. It might take a while, but I hope this experience has made me a better person. I hope it has made all of us better people.
We really are excited to see those of you at home that we've been missing for so long, to see our nieces & nephews who have surely grown beyond recognition, to reconnect with friends that have gone through their own hills & valleys in the last 2 years, and to experience some other things we've missed (GOOD milk, pepperoni, artisan breads, and berries, to name just a few) but for now we are still mourning the coming loss of our Asian home.
(This is the same view as the picture at top...notice the isolated stop sign? The jungle was completely cleared out because of neighbor's complaints about overgrown vegetation, snakes, mosquitoes, etc. It feels very symbolic of our departure at this time.)
Malaysia, we will miss you.