Tuesday, February 04, 2014

What I will miss most about overseas military

We are now on a four month countdown ... in four months we will return to America to live. This will be our first time living on American soil since 2010.

Will I miss living overseas? I will.

Am I excited about returning to life in America? You better believe it!

I decided to write a post detailing the things I will miss the most about living overseas. Specifically, what I will miss most about the military life overseas. I will follow it up with a post on the things I am most excited to return to America for.

So without further ado.

When we return to America, I will most miss the ...

Having the opportunity to participate in another culture is something that I have appreciated more than anything else. While I have appreciated it here in the Azores, the culture here is a bit more muted due to the influence of Americans. However, the Turkey in culture was such an amazing spectacle to behold. I will never forget the opportunities to try new foods, learn a new language, and participate in a world unlike anything I had ever experienced me. It has changed me. For the better.

Because our country is so separated from the rest of the world, most Americans truly have no idea how big the world is and how a little role we as Americans play in that world. We believe the world is about us. We think everyone does or should speak English. When Americans travel they get frustrated that other places don't do it the way we do it. That viewpoint has completely changed for me, and I believe it will be changed forever. I am greatly aware of how big the world is and how different most of the world is from the place I call home. I believe this view of the world will define how I raise my children and how I live the rest of my life.

I really think that once I return to America, I will grow a little stir crazy for change. I will miss the opportunity to travel from country to country and see the world so easily. These last four years have been an incredible adventure, and it will be a bit of a shock to get off of this roller coaster. The picture above was taken in Ephesus -- straight out of the pages of the Bible. 

The incredible people I have met -- both in the Turkish and Portuguese communities as well as those Americans associated with the Bases we have lived on has been amazing. I especially take note of my housekeeper Hatice in Turkey and Hita here. These women have become like my family, and it is hard to leave them knowing I will probably never see them again. The picture above is Hatice and Abigail. I will always remember how Hatice, in her broken English, would sing, "Abigail, Abigail, eyes blue so. Abigail, Abigail, I love you!"

Military community
There is nothing like an overseas military community. While it can drive you crazy sometimes, the awesomeness of it is not lost on me. While Bases in the USA are also wonderful, I believe it is the overseas Base that truly allows you to feel people who do not know you well, take you in as one of their own. We take care of each other. We stand beside each other. We are family for each other while our own is so far away. The people I have met during these last four years will be forever a part of my life. This picture above was taken shortly before my departure from Turkey. These women hold incredible places in my heart.

By this I mean the amazing landscapes. The oceans. The mountains. The mosques. The Spirit Houses. The canyons. The valleys. The snow. The rain. What a beautiful world the Lord has made. How wonderful that I got to see so much of it. I'm looking forward to seeing more of America, but I am not sure much in the USA can compare to this photo of the Azores above.

The overseas military life afforded us the opportunity to do and see things we would never have been able to participate in otherwise. The picture above is from a Chapel-subsidized trip to Greece that I took in December of 2011 while in Turkey. (The Base Chapel paid a majority of the cost of the trip for anyone who wanted to go.) Especially in Turkey, because we were close to the troops overseas, we were able to attend concerts and meet famous people and partake in things that we'd never have had the opportunity to do otherwise. I am very grateful to those individuals who help entertain and thank our military and their families.

To say that the life we have lead both in Turkey and here has been slower than the USA would be too kind of a way to say it. The pace of life overseas has been S-L-O-W. When you are sort of trapped on a military Base (or on a very tiny island), you are forced to spend time with yourself, with God, with your family, with friends. There is no opportunity for driving all over creation for soccer games and outings. There is simply the few things that the Base has to offer. Your choices are so limited, you really feel like you don't have any. I know I will miss the speed of life when I return to the American way of doing life.

Grab a couple of lady-friends and peruse Cyprus. Why not? Travel is cheap, easy, and becomes a way of life. Leaving the USA is a lot of work. But in Europe and Asia, leaving the country is/was easy. It is time to take a break from traveling, but I know I'll be getting the itch soon after we settle down.

Without a doubt the thing I will THE MOST is having a housekeeper. Both in Turkey and here in the Azores, we are strongly encouraged to have a housekeeper (and a gardener in Turkey) to help create good relations with the locals and help support their economy. The cost to have someone to come to your house for the WHOLE DAY (8-5) is roughly $40 US dollars here in the Azores. In Turkey, it was slightly higher. Not only have I loved Hatice and Hita without limit, having their help has helped me navigate this overseas life much easier!


Sarah, Dan, and Peter said...

Well done, Wendi! I totally agree! Dan and I miss those aspects of overseas life on a daily basis! :)

Anonymous said...

Regarding the pace of life: You can choose to live the S-L-O-W life in the US. It does go against the grain a bit, but I'm finding more and more people that at least WANT to do it. I've made an intentional choice to not get involved in a lot of things...to keep our family schedule as simple as possible. I've done this this past year and I've had several really GREAT conversations with girl friends that wonder how to extricate yourself from the obligations. The US is fabulous at overscheduling and being overbusy and taking pride in it. It's ridiculous really. Like taking pride in something that can cause you bad health choices and a nervous breakdown! Really? - Andi