Monday, January 11, 2010

LONDON, finally...

Finally in London! Treasuring every minute of that strange in between time before anything makes sense. None of the streets lead to anything I recognize and I can still get completely lost. The city has not shrunken with recognition feels vast and unexplored. When I am in our flat I long to be out walking. I absolutely LOVE that I have days and weeks of something new every day ahead of me.

I have been too busy riding our whirlwind to post here but I am feeling the urge returning....:)

Friday, November 27, 2009



Goodbye green acacia trees
Goodbye strong women
Who carry loads upon their heads
Goodbye forked lightning
Glorious African thunderstorms

Goodbye smoky braais
Goodbye blue, blue skies
Goodbye jacaranda forests
Goodbye Southern Cross of stars

Goodbye blue jacket men
Goodbye throaty Afrikaans
Goodbye, six inch millipedes

Goodbye red earth
Goodbye young buck
Goodbye colourful rand
Goodbye roadside zebra

Goodbye joyful Africa
Goodbye mourning Africa
Goodbye enticing Africa
Goodbye dangerous Africa

Goodbye beautiful Africa
Goodbye shocking Africa
Goodbye wild Africa
Goodbye complicated Africa
Goodbye Africa

Isabel Crawley upon leaving South Africa for London

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Learning To Change"

I am almost afraid to re-emerge here, it has been so long. I have been completely and totally engaged with the nitty gritty of life and adjustment to South Africa.

We have extended our time here through November which means our limbo season has been longer than we expected. Each of my girls has handled this in different ways and I want to share my twelve year old daughter Isabel's most recent reflection on how she is feeling about all the change that she has gone through in the last three months.

This is an excerpt from her blog:


Here in South Africa I've learned a lot. How to try new things WITHOUT thinking they look gross. How to haggle in markets. How to tie a sarong. How to take risks and adapt your recipes. (The chocolate cake adaption turned out great, the flour-less chocolate cookies not so great.:)) How to take a chance and ask questions. how to use a camera to its full capacity. How to deal (With my dad's very eager help) with male attention. How to mix paint. How to watch no movies except the occasional babysitting movie. How to put a memory card into the computer (I learned the hard way. Trust me to put the card in the only slot you shouldn't. Hehehe). How to PUT DOWN a book if it's to "Old" for me. How to put together a coherent (barely) sentence in Afrikaans. But mostly, I've learned (or just started the lesson) on how to accept change. Plans have changed. Ideas have changed. Relationships have changed. I've changed. And I'm learning to hold onto the things that don't change, and to enjoy things that I have while I have them.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no expert. I find change really painful. Changing from house to house, from country to country, mindset to mindset, from child to teenager (don't rush me!); I find super hard. I don't think I'd change anything that's happened, but I still cry over things.
But in every painful change I've undergone, God has put wonderful things in them, too. I guess what I'm trying to say is that maybe I'm learning to trust that there is a plan in the chaos, a reason to the pain, and more importantly, there are things that never change. Ever. I'm learning what they are.
But, even though change is so hard, in a way I'm glad I get so much of it. With all of the different things I've seen and felt and heard, and all the amazing people I've talked to, I wouldn't trade my life for the most rooted, stable place on earth.
I used to think (and still kind of do) that my mom was totally crazy to like moving and change so much, but now I think I understand her better. In any case, I don't think I have a choice not to follow in her footsteps, though they stretch all over the globe!
(Anyway, everyone knows my parents are completely, without a doubt, totally crazy!:)


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


"When deeply rooted, one is prepared for every opening; or, as Aime Cesaire expresses it, 'Porous to all the breathings of the world'."

- Joseph Ki-Zerbo

Monday, July 13, 2009

Here We Are!

We are in South Africa now...plans have changed and we will be here through November. London will just have to wait a bit...:). In the meantime we get to admire the flora and fauna..... more soon!

"All children must figure out who they are and where they belong. Rooted children can take their clues from history, from their environment, from the traditions they are born into. But mobile children, raised in a world of changing backdrops, are expected to be cultural chameleons, turning themselves emerald in the Amazon forest, tawny on dry Arabian sands. To successfully adapt to the transitions in their lives, they must flow in and out of cultures, taking on the colors of one, slipping from the bonds of another. Some embrace the many influences they are exposed to, while others are more selective, adopting only those aspects of a culture they choose to retain. They are able to immerse themselves in new cultures, keeping pieces of themselves hidden and adapting well with frequent moves.
But what of their interior selves. Some children deal with transition by managing superficial changes with ease, seemingly conforming to the new host culture but camouflaging their inner lives. They learn new languages, wear the proper clothing, play the part like the seasoned performers they have become. Yet others suffer great difficulty in dislocation and cannot make themselves entirely comfortable anywhere. Without the supportive structures of a place they can call home,they flounder in new environments, unable to conform or blend in with their surroundings. Theirs is not the exhilaration of freedom but the loneliness of isolation. Awkward outsiders, they always feel out of place. A gnawing restlessness shadows their lives and prevents them, even in adulthood,from establishing permanent roots. They search for home in the rhythms of breath and time and in attempts to absorb rootedness through ritual and personal connection. Family, religion, language, memories carried within, become the home these children are unable to return to, a home not defined by geography....
The journey to self discovery can be a protracted one for the unrooted child. The restlessness bred into these children because of their parents' mobility leads them to seek identity in something other than place. Roots are not portable; these children cannot secure themselves to an impermanent home. In developing integrated identity, they must piece together self hood in other ways."
Unrooted Childhoods- Memoirs of Growing Up Global
Faith Eidsea and Nina Sichel

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I am moving (along with husband, four daughters and very large dog) to London in two weeks. We will be stopping in South Africa for two months and hope to settle in London in mid August. As a result I have been crazy busy and have not found the time to post on this blog. I still have a lot to say…just not much time to say it in. I am hoping that during our limbo period in South Africa I will be able to start posting again.
Since I am on here right now I will say that I am more “awake” than I have ever been during a transition. I am savouring every minute of it. The pain of leaving family and friends is acute but it is counterbalanced by a deep joy and an overwhelming sense of relief and release and anticipation. I feel like (I imagine:)) a racehorse, waiting for the gate to spring open so that I can run with all my strength. I am very aware of what a luxury it is to be able to relocate on this scale and I am deeply grateful.
As I have packed up our house I have been inspired by Switchfoot’s song,

"This Is Home”

I’ve got my memories
Always inside of me
But I can’t go back
Back to how it was
I believe now
I’ve come too far
No I can’t go back
Back to how it was

Created for a place
I’ve never known

This is home
Now I’m finally
Where I belong
Where I belong
Yeah, this is home
I’ve been searching
For a place of my own
Now I’ve found it
Maybe this is home
Yeah, this is home

Belief over misery
I’ve seen the enemy
And I won’t go back
Back to how it was

And I've got my heart set on
What happens next
I've got my eyes wide
It’s not over yet
We are miracles
And we’re not alone


And now after all
My searching
After all my questions
I’m gonna call it home
I got a brand new mindset
I can finally see
The sunset
I’m gonna call it home

Saturday, April 4, 2009


" We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake,
not by mechanical aids,
but by an infinite expectation of the dawn,

which does not forsake us
even in our soundest sleep....."

Henry David Thoreau

"The gloom of the world
Is but a shadow;
Behind it,
Yet within reach,
Is joy.
Take Joy."

Fra Giovanni

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Detached Aloof Pattern

There are four or five common emotional patterns found in adult missionary kids. I am currently recovering from (among other things:)) the "Detached Aloof" emotional pattern. David L.Wickstrom describes it this way:

"One frequently observed set of behaviours in adult MKs is the detached aloof pattern. They have been hurt many, many times and decide they are never going to get hurt again. The picture that is often presented is: "I am independent; I don't need anybody; everybody can rely on me, but I don't need to rely on anybody else." The person may be very friendly and easy to talk with, but even after spending considerable time, you feel you don't really know who they are.
Many adult MKs have this detached aloof pattern, but it is even more common in adult MKs who attended boarding school as children and decided at some point, "I'm never going to get hurt again; I will be separate from other people and nobody is going to touch me. I am a rock that can handle anything." And many of them do. They are successful, strong, and very good at what they do, but they are also detached and aloof-untouchable. On the surface they may appear very stable; below the surface the reality may be that they don't let themselves feel."

You don't have to have attended boarding school to default to this pattern. You don't have to have experienced trauma or parental separation. This pattern is common to varying degrees in people who have said a lot of goodbyes or experienced cultural isolation at a very young age.

I recognized this pattern in myself when I realized that I NEVER process my feelings in real time. This has made for quite a build up which I have spent the last two years deconstructing and attempting to separate out strands of grief, loss, anger and trauma. I have recently had the opportunity to grieve cleanly, in real time, alongside people whom I have allowed into the process. What a difference!

Friday, February 13, 2009

"I have often felt like a refugee in my own country. However, when I finally began a conscious effort to reconcile this contradiction (in my late thirties), my heritage turned out to be quite different from the rootless, maladjusted stereotype I had accepted. The more I examined the distinctive combination of grief, alienation,and nostalgia that I associated with the TCK legacy, the more I noticed that many of these "unique" characteristics were also shared by immigrants and refugees. A greater portion of American blues,folk, and rock and roll lyrics seem to be motivated by a nagging sense of loss, a desire for wholeness that is often phrased as a longing for home. Then I began to notice that the Christian sacrament of Communion- by its very name a celebration of community- expresses these same yearnings: "Do this in remembrance of me" Share and be made whole. Be assured that you will find your way home.
My own pilgrimage to remember and be reconciled with a fragmented past has been no less of a redemptive experience- and one equally dependent on the power of community. Instinctively, I understood that to connect more fully in the present- to feel at home- I had to reconnect with my past. My "formative identity", I discovered, included not only the experience of international living, with the attendant cycles of uprooting and reentry, but also the particulars of history and place."

"Rediscovering a Sense of Place"
Paul Asbury Seaman

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Problem

"My problem is that I'm twenty-three years old and I've already had the experience of a lifetime."

Young foreign aid worker returning to passport country after two years in Colombia.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


"When I go back I know I shall be out of it; we fellows who've spent our lives out here always are."

Somerset Maugham The Gentleman in the Parlour

Sunday, January 11, 2009


"Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation."

Mohandas Gandhi