People ask: “What is it like to be back in the USA?” “How has your time in the States been?” “What do you miss most from US when you are away?”
Often times I resort to a 30 second, surface answer. Although that quick answer is true, I avoid the deep tension I feel. I think either: people don’t want to listen to that story, or friends/family don’t want to take the time to understand the complexities.
My excuses are selling both parties short.
In a conversation with a friend, and in another conversation with my sister, I was reminded that the tension in transition is universal…At the very least, Millennial:)
So here are some wrestlings with transition. In hopes that sharing them will be unifying, and honest, and cathartic:
- How do I fully engage in relationships when we both know I’m leaving? Diving deep into relationships is a JOYFUL thing! I thrive where I am, mostly because of the connections I have, or am developing, with people. However, the deeper we get into each other’s lives, the more painful the leaving; the more painful to move on without you.
- Being Present. What a double-edged sward! I am habitually engrossed in the place where I am…in this moment. Yes, it can be a gift, wielded to easily establish new roots and norms! It also leaves people and places behind. Those I am not with, can feel forgotten.
- Each time I give of myself, to a place/people, there is a cost. When transitions(leaving) occurs, the weight of that cost is grieving. Although I “pay for the cost” in grieving, I ultimately gain a treasure. The treasure is: a new friend, a deeper foundation, a better friend, a million memories. I’ve counted up the cost, and giving myself to relationships, no matter how long or short, is worth it.
- I am made of: dozens of countries, a few languages, hundreds of ethnic foods, a global community of friends, at least 3 homes, and other things
- I must grieve my losses well. If I do not, how will there be room to receive the next wave of blessings, friendships, experiences?
Cinnamon Roll Delivery Day!
I (ellie) have been working at Hurley House since we settled in Fort Worth. The bakery gives me sooooo many good things:
- Hilarious coworkers and friends
- Nurturing work environment
- New skills
In addition to ^ALL THAT^, I get to make the cinnamon rolls….
Yes, I love the process of making those buns. It feels especially therapeutic. It reminds me of making cinnamon rolls in a Kenyan village over a charcoal fire. It is James’s favorite sweet thing.
After forming and cutting the rolls, there are always little end pieces that don’t fit into the pans to be sold at Hurley House.
I get to shape them.
I get to take them.
AND I get to deliver them to friends and family all over DFW!!
This is the BEST part…cinnamon roll delivery day!
our new house!!
It is hard to believe that February 28 we left our home in Kenya to live a life that feels like ragamuffins. In the last 140 days we have been in 19 different states driven over 9000 miles and easily stayed 50 different places (with many back and forth between some of the same places). The first week of July we moved into a house in Fort Worth and for the first time have a sense of stability to our transitory lives.
I often talk with my clients about transition. It is a guarantee in our line of work that there will be lots of transition and with it comes consequences and challenges. With all transition comes change, all change has loss and with loss comes grief. So our transition has been full of the beautiful grief of saying goodbye to good things and reticent joy as we entered a stage of endless motion and reacquainting with relationships. It was hard to connect with new and old friends when we have felt like unanchored ships floating in the ocean. Still, we have truly loved getting to know the people in each others lives that were mostly unknown to the spouse that hasn’t lived life with them yet. We each have met friends and family for the first time since most of our lives together has occurred in Kenya.
Transition has been challenging for several reasons.
- Everything is different (nothing is as it was). We have been transported back into the busy lives of our former communities reconnecting on the points we last experienced. Which would be fine except for 5 years of life has happened in our absence. This is true for our lives as well. Just the other day we was with some of my really dear friends and after they put their kids to bed I realized that since the last time we casually hung out they had added two kids and I added a wife. Even thought they are some of my best friends we have to reacquaint ourselves.
- No one knows what we have been through. We are missing out on the shared experiences with friends. SO MUCH has happened to Ellie and I over the last half a decade and no one in our current communities shared it with us. Often people don’t even know how to ask about this fairly significant part of our lives because there isn’t even a frame of reference for connecting to it. I have had a few people ask how my ‘trip’ to Africa was. This seems like a shallow understanding of the last 5 years of my life condensed into a ‘trip’. But also shows the difficulty for others in knowing how to even relate to it. Many times it is left unaddressed and we talk about other things.
- Grieving our losses. We had great communities, church, work and so many things that we said goodbye to in Kenya. Also right before leaving Ellie lost a dear friend, mentor and founder of BlueSky, Kim Pace. The week before her tragic death they had an afternoon just the two of them where they talked about life, relationships and transitions. A sweet memory for Ellie but she grieves Kim and all of BlueSky (especially missing out on summer camp right now).
- The Roots are deep but not broad. As we rebuild relationships and introduce each other to friendships many of them are very deep to have withstood the test of time and distance. But there is lots of connecting and rebuilding to do, to bring the spouse into the depth of a relationship with someone who is new to them. Where do you start with decade long friendships for one when the other has only met them once.
Ellie, Laura and Luke (connecting/reconnecting)
Transition has been Beautiful too.
- We are so loved. We crave connecting with figuring out where our friends are in their lives. We feel so loved and cared for by many, many people. Trinity Chapel in Fort Worth has made us feel welcomed and accepted in many ways. Ellie and I both have friends and family who leap at opportunities to connect with us. There are so many friends who are bringing us right back into their lives. If you are reading this, feel free to reach out and invite us over – we are extraverts and connecting is relaxing for us. Help us by initiating which is hard when we have to do most of it as people aren’t sure what we need.
- We have a house. Finally settling into a constant place has been amazing. Ellie is nesting which is a thing I wasn’t aware was a thing. It involves throw pillows, picture frames and things on the walls. I’m happy that she’s happy.
- Our wide net is full. We have covered so much ground and found such a great many people that we are excited about reconnecting with. All across the USA we realize how blessed we are.
We look forward to being reliable and consistent with our communities for the next 6 months. We hope you reach out to us, because its helpful if you do. Ellie has started a very part time job at the Hurley House in Fort Worth. Pay her a visit or treat yourself to some of the best baked goods and take away meals in Fort Worth. I am doing a counseling course to become a licensed supervisor and working from Trinity Chapel Bible Church if you want to distract me for a lunch or to hang out (PLEASE) get in touch email@example.com. Next week we will be attending a conference for our new assignment (the conference is in Germany) and can’t wait to meet all of our new co-workers. It feels strange for it to have been a months since I was on a plane so in someways its home to be traveling again.
Thanks for reading- James
Putting the miles in (a 60mile ride last Saturday) follow us on Strava
If you follow us on Instagram, @eleanor.rice and @jcovey84, you’ve seen our Epic Road Trip, #thecoveyway, unfold. As part of our new assignment with Wycliffe, we were allowed time to road trip! We connected with people we care about, shared our story, and developed partners for Wycliffe’s ministry. What an incredible journey it was!
4 Weeks on the road*excluding Orlando
20 Locations for Over-Night stays
2 Nights camping
The People We Saw:
22 Family Members
The Things We Did, with our people:
8 Bike Rides
5 Work Meetings
2/3 Beach Trips
2 Farm Tours
1 Midnight showing of “Infinity War”
1 Strawberry Festival
1 Bible Reading Marathon
We would love to connect with you, too:
Partner with our work through Wycliffe
Stephen’s Farm Breakfast!
From February 28 up to our arrival in Orlando, April 7, we did not spend more than 4 consecutive nights in the same bed. In that time, we actually slept in 12 different locations….not counting repeats! James recognized, ” our car is our home”.
Since arriving at Wycliffe Headquarters in Orlando, we have had the luxury of spending 3 whole weeks in the same apartment, the same BED! We took advantage of the momentary settlement and MOVED IN, found a place for everything, bought groceries.
Now, nearing the end of our stay, I’m reflecting on the little joys that make this apartment home:
A windowsill to brew pour-over coffee
A place to pop popcorn!
An address to mail: prescription contacts, the chords we forgot, and surprises
A living room to host movie nights with new friends
A starting and ending for a bike ride
A “rack” to air out our sleeping bag
James and I are redefining home.
We are soon to leave Orlando and make home with many dear, generous friends and family as we drive north! We are thrilled to add you into our home and be a part of yours! Road Tripping relaunches April 28…
Partner with our work through Wycliffe!
We are an a road trip across the USA and currently in new member orientation at Wycliffe Bible Translators. Now that both of us are Wycliffe members, Ellie is no longer working for BlueSky, we need new people to partner with us through prayer and finances. Currently, we are living off of the partnership that James had as a single, which has us a bit short. One of our main purposes of being back in the USA is so that we can connect with people who have been caring for each of us as individuals and to invite new people to partner with us as a couple. Before we can return overseas to continue our ministry, we need 100% of the monthly financial budget that Wycliffe has set for us. Please pray for us while on this trip to connect with friends and family. We are excited to meet each others family and friends since all of our dating, engaged and married life has been in Kenya!
April 5; Austin, TX
April 6; Somewhere in east Texas
April 7; Mobile, Alabama
April 7-April 27; Orlando, FL- New Member Orientation as Ellie becomes apart of Wycliffe too!
April 28; Jacksonville; FL
April 29-31; Georgia
May 1; South Carolina
May 2-8; North Carolina and Virginia
May 8-?; Virginia, DC, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee
Mid May back to Texas
We are coming home! We have yet to experience is furlough, intentional time living back at home, which is a normal season for most cross-cultural workers. This allows us to get some time away from the challenges of life overseas and to reconnect with our families, friends and supporters. After 5 years of living in Kenya it will be needed. In our case, we will come back around the beginning of March and stay for the rest of 2018. Through this time Ellie will look at joining Wycliffe and we will be planning for what life serving together will look like. We will continue to depend on financial support and be working from the states in roles yet to be determined by Wycliffe.
We hope to be based around the Fort Worth area and are looking for a place to live for 9 months. If you or anyone in your circle knows of a place we could stay, that would be incredible. We have very little to our name in the USA which is freeing in many ways but will present a challenge when trying to set up a home for a short time. We will need to figure out transportation and hope to purchase one car, however life would be easier if someone had one we could use for a time.
How you can help
We are both living off of a fully supported budget, based on individual need, since we work for two different organizations. Ellie currently is well below her financial need and can be supported with monetary gifts through BlueSky by clicking here. James can be supported through Wycliffe by clicking here. One of the goals of furlough is for both of us to raise support together through Wycliffe, but we need to make it until that happens! We also would greatly appreciate anyone who can help us with our practical furlough needs too. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you have any questions.
She Said YES!
(James’ Story) I was in the USA for a few weeks returning to Kenya on May 16. During my visit to Texas I was able to meet with Ellie’s parents and Skype with her siblings. They were very supportive of us and of me asking Ellie to be my wife! So I planned that on the 19th for her birthday I would gather some of her colleagues in Nairobi and surprise her. I told everyone that we would meet in Karura forrest in town and surprise Ellie for her birthday. I had her convinced that I didn’t have any kind of ring the night before (even though I had my great grandmothers ring in my pocket during the conversation). They were well hidden when we reached the waterfall. Waterfalls in Kenya have played a fun part of our story together as we have had such great adventures at many of them. I told Ellie that I wanted to take a couple photo and put my camera on the bench. When she turned around I had the ring hidden in a compass, representing our future adventures together, and got down on one knee. She was surprised and after I couldn’t wait any longer for a response after popping the question I suggested she say ‘yes’. Which she quickly did. Then her friends jumped out of the forrest to join in the celebration. We are looking forward to getting married in November in Texas and starting our lives together living in Nairobi and continuing our ministries.