Feed on

Transitioning from the familiar to the unfamiliar.

I have no idea what I’m doing.

I wake up in the morning and look around at suitcases and trunks, piles of clothes with no drawers, books with no shelves, and as I try to weave my way through the heavy fog of jet lag, I can’t figure out where to begin. Do I unpack this trunk first? Do I buy a washing machine today? How do I clean these apples again? Was it water and bleach? I think that’s right…I’ll do that.

Or maybe I’ll drink another cup of coffee first.

The kids are doing well. Africa is wooing them in much the same way it wooed me as a child. Falling in love with the sounds, the smells, the sights. The sky yesterday evening as the sun was setting literally made our hearts leap. With school starting in a few days their minds are drifting towards normal things: morning schedules, extra curricular activities, packing lunches, homework. In spite of the intermittent feelings of disorientation, the kids are doing well.

Joel has found his happy place. He is bound and determined to figure his way around this city, and is jumping in full steam. I am proud of him, and I am grateful for him, too. His energy and sense of adventure make all these new changes interesting and exciting. In spite of that “I have no idea what I’m doing” feeling, he has decided to do something.

Today I decided to do something too. Actually, Joel and I both decided to do something, and we bought an oven, refrigerator, washing machine and dryer. It felt enormous to me. One task out of a hundred that we could check off of our “to do” list. It may not seem like much, but it was a huge step in transitioning from the unfamiliar to the familiar. One step closer to making Malawi our home- not just in our hearts but in the most pragmatic of ways.



This disorienting feeling that seems to wash over me from time to time is one that I will probably experience over the course of the next several months. Learning new things. Transition. Moments of discombobulation and confusion. Recognizing my limitations, and embracing the imperfections and the slow pace of adjustment. I really do need to slow down my expectations. And coming to grips with the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing, but by taking a couple of steps forward, I’ll figure this thing out.

Most importantly, my heart truly does feel like it has made its way home.

Transition is like riding an emotional roller coaster, but it can’t take away the peace that is holding me together.

We landed in Malawi on Tuesday afternoon, three days ago, with what felt like one million pieces of luggage and a car seat. Driving from the airport to our compound, the distinct reality that we are really in Africa hit me hard. The mamas carrying their babies on their backs with plastic jugs balanced on their heads, the red dirt, bumpy roads, bicyclists riding way too close for comfort alongside traffic, the mice-on-a-stick, and maize crackling on a make-shift grill flooded my heart with the deepest feelings of comfort. This is the life, the world, the familiarity I didn’t realize I missed so much. It is difficult to put all these feelings into words. If I could wrap Africa around myself like a blanket it would look a lot like the view I see outside my window.

Tomorrow morning when I wake up, I will likely begin the day feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing. Then I’ll pull out another suitcase and get back to the task of creating something familiar out of the unfamiliar.

I am holding onto this verse and reminding myself daily in those moments when I feel so disoriented and out of whack…

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

10 Responses to “i have no idea what i’m doing”

  1. Judy Hayburn says:

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. So powerful!!! Your book is in the process of being written and it will be a bestseller.

  2. Loretta Wideman says:

    Oh my, Amy. I, too, have tears. You know how to write what I can only think. So proud of you.

  3. Sally says:

    Wow Amy, so much to take in complete with
    Jetlag! Getting settled is always a challenge.
    Being in a foreign country is just an added
    demention. As in all places we find ourselves
    We hold on to the Lords faithfulness as I know
    you are.
    Blessings on you and your beautiful family!

    Praying for you

  4. Carol Nemchick says:

    We love you guys ever since Arlington

  5. Janna Cochran says:

    Love this and Love you! Change is hard, no matter where you live. Your rhythm and the “new normal” will take shape soon enough – plus you have appliances now! Clean clothes make everything better. ❤️

    Blessings over you 6 ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  6. Josh Smalley says:

    You guys got this! Small steps. It’s not your first rodeo. You’ll be settled in in no time at all.



  7. Julie says:

    Beautifully written. Watching your journey and thinking of you every day. I love you!!

  8. Mary Denison says:

    Dear Amy,
    Thank you so much for this, I have been thinking of you all each day and it made me feel more connected to you. It filled in the spaces of Joël’s photos by giving me a picture of your heart and emotions. I share with you your joy….and understand the challenges having gone thru them recently. He is your Strength and Wisdom. Mary

  9. Court says:

    Amy, I am so excited to follow you and yours on this journey! WOW, just simply amazing. I can’t wait to read more from you! Sending SO much love and positive energy from the Old Dominion!
    Your Favorite Cousin ;-)

  10. Vi Engelgau says:

    You write so beautifully, Amy, and that gift you have will be greatly used of the Lord, not only now but also in the years to come. I surely trust you are putting your blogs and your letters to your parents into hard copy form so under the worst of conditions down the road, you will have them available. I have the 2,000 letters written to my folks–the most complete journal of our lives that helps me relive the experiences we had in Burkina Faso. I thrill at being able to “follow” you through this means, and pray for you with understanding of what you are going through. You can’t know it at this point, but God is using you in many more ways that you realize, my dear, so let every act be done as worship and know your everyday work is honored by the Lord of the Harvest.

Leave a Reply