Helen is a semester student this fall. After going home for Thanksgiving, she wrote this reflection about her new normal.
After a week of rest, electricity, and spending time with my family, I am back on the h.e.a.r.t. campus for the final two weeks before graduation. Going back into the “real” world made me realize how relative the term “normal” is.
My view of dirt has changed. Dirty feet now mean a long day of work, of progress, of being closer to God’s creation. We are all dirty by the end of the day so we rejoice in the work accomplished and in our togetherness. So sometimes we go to bed dirty and it is normal. It makes me think of Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of the messengers that bring good news!” Those feet must have walked through mud, been poked by sand burrs, and slipped on rocks until the destination was met. But those feet are beautiful because of the joy and the story that they bring.
I never imagined I would be comfortable with using a latrine or taking bucket shower head showers or pushing chickens back with my feet to throw scraps on the ground or sloshing fish poop water back to my garden to fertilize it. I didn’t plan for all of those things to become normal; they just did. Once the awkward time of discomfort slowly started to fade, routine caused comfort settle in.
As I have been meditating and mulling over my new definition of normal, I began to think about all the changes ahead. HEART graduation is ten days away! My latrines, getting ready in the morning with a flashlight, and my lush garden will be a sweet memory. Truly cold weather, golfcart rides, and Chickfila are coming back into my life as I try to fit back into my old definition of normal when I move back home for a month. And then on to part two! My plane ticket is purchased; I am officially Togo bound on the 24th of January! I cannot even begin to imagine the unknown cultural cues, the difficulties of language learning, and the discomforts of homesickness for a home that isn’t even there. Yet, I will find comfort in finding the normalcy of life there. I will learn the cues, become more fluent in the language, and feel at home in Togo because that is what happened at HEART.