Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bits and Bobs

by Ben

Please forgive us for our lack of communication over the past couple of months. Not surprisingly, life in London is full of opportunities that send my easily-distracted mind (and person) on continuous and exciting tangents.

Maybe we’re still in the honeymoon phase of re-entry, but our transition into London life has been very pleasant, not least because Holly’s parents and sister are nearby and we have a great place to live and fun flat-mate.

My professor of the refugee studies class I’m taking coined the phrase “nostalgic disorientation” to describe a common experience of refugees in asylum countries. It is the phenomenon of a mixture of emotions like frustration, sadness, angst, confusion,……disorientation, but not really knowing why. He talks about the “mosaic” or “tapestry” that is home, including the tangible and intangible elements that are continually processed intuitively. On a much different level than a refugee, I can relate to this confusing nostalgia. A few days ago, I suddenly became aware of the absence of African music playing behind our house and the murmur of men gathered around the drinking pot. Where is the ubiquitous scent of sunflower oil, the warmth of the red earth, the sound of children laughing and crying, the breeze coming through open windows, or the occasional roar of youth watching a football match down the road? Sometimes, I imagine the buzzing of mosquitoes at my ear and try to make sure the net is in place when I fully wake up and realize where I am.

Thanksgiving really highlighted the difference in our new environment. We always celebrated Thanksgiving in Uganda, but I had to kill the turkey, Holly had to roll the pie crusts on the floor, and 50 people came to eat in the front lawn. It was so nice to be with family this year. We shared our thankfulness with one another, cuddled around the fireplace to talk philosophy and theology, and ate delicious food for hours on end.

Jay and Teri wanted to minimize my culture shock so they let me pretend that I was going to kill the turkey (that came in plastic wrap with the inner organs tied neatly inside)

Here is Holly and I hanging the mistletoe. Guess what we did when I put her down :)

Teri thought I would look nice with a raw liver mustache

Last weekend we attended the European gathering, a place for leaders in high profile places and up-and-coming leaders to network and talk about how their faith impacts and influences their work.

The venue for the gathering