There really is no normal way to transition from there to here. I’m living in the between today, and I’m seeing life through strangers eyes. Oh, it’s summertime now. Oh, I have a dog. Look, I can drink the water. Where did we get all this stuff, anyway? And what’s my name again?

I unpack my suitcase and find leftover pesos in the pocket of my dirtiest pair of pants. At first, I’m bummed that I forgot to exchange it back to US dollars before I left. Then, I realize this money that I hold in my hand could pay the rent and feed a family of four for a month. I close my fist around this pile of useless-to-me money. I’m glad to have it, as it reminds me of … well, it just reminds me. The hydrangeas bloomed while we were gone. So did the gardenias. I breathe in deep standing in our backyard. It smells like thankful.

I think of you as I stand there, of my sister’s words as I called her finally from the airport the first chance I got. I feel like I went with you on this trip, she told me. I feel like we were all there, too. Those words of hers are the best gift, I realize now, standing in the middle of provision and enough. As much as I learned and saw and experienced while in the Philippines, I did not go to simply see it for myself. I went to see it for you, too. 

It seems too small to say thank you, but I have to say it anyway. Thank you for reading our stories last week. Thank you for keeping your eyes open with us. Thank you for sharing our links on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you for releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Thank you for praying that I wouldn’t have a panic attack on the airplane. I mostly didn’t.

I’m standing precariously on the fence between thankful and despair. I can’t go back to not knowing and I can’t change the world tonight. So I’m settling on thankful, because that must be where it starts. Until we know what we’ve been given, perhaps we will be unable to give. And there it is again, compassion births compassion. Love begets love. Gifts move us to give. And so we begin with thankful, with breathing in the sweet air of our backyard, with embracing our safe home, with eating the bounty of food that is provided. We eat, we laugh, and then we dig around in the hidden places of our hearts and our budgets and look for ways to give with new eyes. Oh Lord, continue to give us new eyes.