and other specialities of Home Assignment...
04.11.2015 13 °C
We've been on our UK Home Assignment for a good 2 months now, (and yes, it's been a pretty good 2 months, thanks). After the excitement of my sister's Reading Wedding, sleeping in various beds, numerous visits, hunting for items like socks and hair mousse as we pack and re-pack… we are very pleased to settle into a lovely flat (way too lovely, and dangerously cream-coloured for toddlers!). It is a flat in a nice part of Edinburgh, very kindly sorted out by someone in the church...
and life almost feels normal.
But then there are a few things which still make us very excited (or just put us in a good mood)... like...
1. for us all to be anonymous, not people to be stared at, not a 'mzungu' or a 'mundu', but instead to blend in and feel like a fairly normal, frizzy- haired family
2. not needing to use complex maths skills to convert pounds or dollars into thousands and millions of Ugandan shillings
3. drinkable tap water and instant hot water!
4. the NHS, NHS 24, check ups, tests and caring Doctors
5. home-baking (there is an obvious downside to this), fresh milk and reasonably priced, non- stale cereal.. the kids could glug milk till the cows come home…and keep asking for more bowls of cereal.
6. thought- provoking, good, meaty sermons... WHILST the kids are being safely entertained in creche or Sunday school
7. the choice and variety in supermarkets
8. TV... it has been a treat to enjoy Downton Abbey, Bake-Off, Match of the Day and CBeebies
9. and of course it sounds clichéd, but The People... it has been so encouraging to see childhood friends, old school friends, friends from summer mission trips, church friends, work friends, uni pals, brother, sisters, and for our kids to meet and play with their cousins, aunties, uncles, grandparents and great grandparents. My parents have lost several of their good friends this year, and it has been a sobering reminder of the fragility of life, and the need to cherish special times together and take lots of photos, and (most of the time!) it feels like a privilege to have these few intense people-packed months...
However, to give a more balanced picture of Home Assignment, it's not been all cheesy photos and tray bakes…
1. Kids and long car journeys are not a particularly fun combination
2. Kids and lack of routine= another lousy combo. I especially think it must be very confusing for little Asher who has no idea where he being taken to or who he is visiting. He sometimes seems to think he is in Arua...
3. Being in a hospitable culture where cake and/ or biscuits are automatically brought out with a hot drink is tempting at the best of times... which can be problematic when we are visiting people...a lot…we might need to check the extra baggage allowance on the return flights (!) and prepare ourselves for the blunt Ugandan response 'eh, you are now very fat'.. We have missed foods like 'Tunnocks teacakes' or caramel shortcakes so it’s time to catch up! :-)
4. Our nearly-5 year old is missing her friends in Uganda, and if we properly lived in the UK, would have just started school, which I'm sure she would be enjoying and seems ready for… so attempting to home school in this short season is not the easiest role
5. Trying to explain such a different life back in Uganda to people can be difficult, especially when asked questions like 'do you speak African?'..
6. Although it is lovely to be back in the UK for this visit, we are definitely not settled here, with the normal rhythms and roots of work, school etc, and it can sometime feel like living in a parallel life to ‘normal’ people.
That all said... I'm sure in a few years time when we have moved back to the UK permanently, and will have the alarm clock, school run, swimming lessons and juggling childcare with work, there will be fleeting moments when we look longingly back on this season of time; the season when water and milk are still a novelty, and where we are relatively free to meet up with friends at the drop of a hat… :-)