The Space Between
It's been 6 weeks since my last post. As you'll recall, we were coming off of a crappy part of travel; weariness, fatigue, and culture stress among other things. It's pretty much what you'd expect after going hard for 6+ months in 10+ countries.
Would we do it again? 100% yes Will we do it again? 100% yes When will we do it again? 100% no idea
Purdy Journeys continues but it continues...for now...in our home country of the good ole USA. I'll update on where we are, what our plans are, and what we are doing. Before I do that, I'll share about our time in Germany.
We LOVED Germany. It's beautiful. It's clean. It's efficient. The people are nice and pleasant. It has awesome history. Because of its history, its tolerant in a great way; not in a forced you-have-to-accept-everybody-or-you're-a-hater kind of way - it's natural and pleasant. Crime is low. Violent crime is very low. Use of a cell phone is banned while driving. Healthcare is great. It's very green. Food standards are high. It's pretty much awesome.
With that said, our time in Germany was amped-up awesome because of the people and specifically because of one particular family. More on that below.
As you might guess, we had an exquisitely wonderful time in Germany. We planned to use Berlin as a base while we explored other areas on short 2-3 days trips over the course of a month. We thought it would be an easy way to see Prague, Amsterdam, Southern Germany, Austria, parts of France and Poland. But 2 things happened: #1 we met an incredible family in Potsdam, Germany and enjoyed spending every day with them and #2 we simply ran out of budget money.
With our budget dwindling, we did not fret.
New Friends That Feel Like Old Friends
The Freemans were a 100% God-ordained blessing for us at the perfect time. As it turned out, we were perfectly timed for them as well. Potsdam is an extremely popular place during the holiday season in Germany. It was not difficult to understand why. One can walk or ride a bike anywhere in Potsdam (a population of about 160,000) and it's laced with many beautiful parks and historical buildings. If you're too lazy to expend physical energy, then public transportation is available and easy.
The Potsdam Conference was held there just after the end of WWII so there's much history as Potsdam itself was within Soviet-controlled East Berlin. It has great cafes and shops. There's cool farmer's markets throughout the week and somebody, somewhere is usually performing live music.
After having made our base in Potsdam, we were an easy 30 minute train ride from Berlin. And Berlin is as cool a city as we visited in our travels. Unlike Potsdam, most cafe, museum, theater, and store employees speak English. So that was an added bonus. When in Potsdam, we either had to rely on our skill of miming and charades or simply make sure we had a Freeman with us. Their entire family of 5 is fluent in German. I forgot to mention that they are Americans. After feeling called to help launch a church, specifically its music ministry, they moved to Germany 2+ years ago. They fully submersed themselves into German culture by learning the language through 8-hour, 5-day-a-week German classes. Hardcore. Impressive. Badass.
We now consider The Freemans dear friends. And that was after 1 month of total togetherness! You spend 30 days with anyone and you get to know each other well. Neither of us ever had a 'we gotta get some space' moment. It was unbelievable. We were just pleased they still liked us after that much time together. LOL!
It's not often that you meet a family that you simply click with. We were able to goof off comfortably around one another and get to the deepest levels of the heart with honest, vulnerable conversation. It cannot be stressed enough how much we needed them. Thank you Lord.
We are currently in a holding pattern. We believe our next life step will likely be overseas. We have no idea what that looks like. We have no idea when that will be. We are fervently praying for guidance and clarity.
Our journey around the globe was amazing. It was better than we could have imagined. It was tougher than we could have imagined. We imagined great times and challenging times.
The highs were higher and the lows were lower than we had anticipated. But isn't that what makes life so great? You don't appreciate the other without its contrast, its nemesis, its exact opposite.
In the here and now I've just landed a consulting job that will generate some income. I'm also working on a big, personal project that we hope will lead to opportunities and open doors over the next year.
The adjustment to life back in Tennessee has been a bit easier than anticipated. Very tough at first, but the travel bug that quickly broke our hearts began to heal a bit quicker than anticipated. We attribute that to the grace of God.
We made a quick visit to New York City on our way back into the States. We followed that with a visit to Baton Rouge to see friends and plant our faces in Louisiana cuisine that we dearly missed.
As a side note, Louisiana has the best food in the world. We may discover better food elsewhere in the world in the future, but after having traveled around the globe, there is no better place for food of every origin.
We followed our Louisiana visit with a stop in Atlanta to see my brother and his family before heading back to Nashville.
We dearly miss traveling and have an itch everyday to go somewhere but we're appreciating the moment that we are in. Some of the familiarities have been nice but I think we prefer unfamiliarity. That may not make sense but it will to those that have traveled as we have.
Some of the strange re-entry obervations:
- Hearing English all around us. It was sensory overload. We were used to unknown language white noise. Hearing and understanding conversations made me want to throw a brick at some people.
- Grocery store selection. Crazy overload. Too many choices.
- Texting and driving. Almost every driver in the Atlanta metro area texts and drives. States need to do something about the constant use of cell phones. It's a problem.
- Families buried in their mobile devices. People all over the world use their mobile devices in public but it's on steroids in the U.S. One change we made as a result of our travels: no mobile device use when we are out as a family, when visiting with others, or eating a meal.
- Pace. The pace is so much faster in the U.S.
- SUVs and Trucks. Good lord, they are everywhere.
- Everyone is loud. There's a reason that we, as Americans, are known for being loud worldwide. Because we are. Including The Purdys.
- Intolerant drivers. Drivers in the U.S. are predominately intolerant. What we discovered in Southeast Asia when comparing drivers to their American counterparts was this:
- SE Asia drivers do not follow the rules, but are completely tolerant of other drivers.
- American drivers generally follow the rules, but are completely intolerant.
- Pluses and minuses to both. Interestingly different.
- SE Asia drivers use their horn for positive communication.
- American drivers use their horn as a bolded and italicized exclamation point preceded by an expletive.
That sums up where we are right now. Waiting and filling the space between with what is necessary to move forward while we pray for direction, guidance, and clarity.