Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Papua Family

It's been a rough few weeks. Too much work on Isaac's plate as he finishes up the semester of grad school. Too little time for us together. Lack of sleep. It was wonderful to have family here for the week, but now then they left. I felt drained... tired. As Bilbo says - "like butter, spread over too much bread." Felt like I was barely holding it together. BUT... it's over now. Isaac is done with the semester and we've had some good time together. I got two nights of enough sleep. I feel peace rising.

In the midst of the emotion, though, there were photos online of a Papua wedding. Every few years there's a wedding of two people who grew up in Papua. Half the time they weren't even dating when we were all there and have been long distance since, but somehow they find each other. This time a few classmates gathered for the wedding and afterward stopped in Chicago. Note the combination. My childhood home, my American home, and a few pieces of my precious Papua family... all in one place. Makes me feel weepy.

And then.... Alysa blogged. Alysa was, once upon a time, my English teacher. And a high school Bible study leader. And when I moved to Chicago, she and Jack were there and became like family. And now... now she's a friend. And all those crazy friends of mine crashed at her house in Chicago, and she wrote about it. Read it here. She talks about moving over there as a young single woman, committed to spend three years there. I was in high school for two of those years, so my most poignant time in Papua was part of her time in Papua. Her words made me all teary, because sometimes I wonder if I'm crazy because I love it so much. I love the place, I love the people, and I loved that particular time. The people that were there feel like my family. Am I crazy? It's beautiful to hear someone else say the same things.

Alysa wrote:

There's a definite connection I feel with these particular families because they actually did take me in. I spent holidays with them. They fed me more meals that I'd care to admit. They took care of me when I had malaria. They followed me up the hill at night to make sure I got home safely. They remembered my birthday and made it special. They let me sleep in their guest room when riots and tensions broke out and it just wasn't safe for me to be alone. Or simply when I was feeling lonely. They gave, and gave, and gave.

And then there's this indirect connection that runs super deep, too. And it's with ANYBODY that has lived in Irian, especially those that lived there during the time I was there. I might not have known them well when we lived in the same community, but BECAUSE we have that common bond of Irian, and we know the same people, and we understand the culture and we did life there, then there's this deep connection. (FYI, Irian is the old name for Papua)
It's a strange thing, and a beautiful thing. A little hard to explain too. When we're trying to get together with some guy I went to high school with it just seems weird, because that was 10 years ago and who keeps in touch with high school friends, especially of the opposite gender? Well, when they're family you do! And I just love that when I got married so many of my friends went to Isaac and welcomed him to "the family" So now, even though he wasn't there and he isn't a very sentimental person, he gets it. And he loves those people too.

I'm thankful for that love, even though love is a little painful too. Oh, and being family does mean some hurt feelings, fights, and dysfunction. :)

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