So THIS Is What Early Morning Looks Like

I am safely home.  I am showered, I ate a cheeseburger for dinner, and I kissed my kids goodnight.  I feel asleep next to my husband. 

Then I woke up WIDE awake at 4:30 a.m.–my body thinks it’s 1:30 pm–unable to go back to sleep.  I lay still for a while breathing in the quiet, the scent of my husband, the unbelievable softness of my bed.  My mind raced for a while, and I began to cry.  Hubs, half asleep, put his arm around me.  "What’s wrong?" he asked, in his sleep.  "The world," I whispered back.

So here I sit, blogging at 5-something a.m., totally exhausted and unable to sleep, and (I have to admit) enjoying the wonder of high-speed internet. 

My homecoming was even sweeter than I could’ve hoped.  Never in my life have I seen a happier sight than my favorite people in the airport terminal.   I dropped my luggage and ran, and my kids ran to me, crossing a little too far into the secured area.  A guard barked at us.  Pshaw, national security–I have my babies to hug. 

My husband is a hero.  In the entire time I was gone, we never really got to talk.  There were a few sentences over Yahoo Voice Chat, but our low bandwidth at the hotel never let us get very far.  We were able to text chat most days, but only for a few minutes.  And that doesn’t really satisfy a momma’s need to hear her little people’s voices. 

My nine-year-old son Stephen came down with the full-blown flu my second day away, completely throwing all our carefully-laid plans out of the water.  Hubs had to give up even more of his own time than we had originally planned, and he never complained once.  He’s a trooper of the highest degree.  Our family and friends jumped in eagerly and unselfishly to help.  Thank you, thank you, to those of you pitched in to help–you know who you are. 

My blogging from Uganda was even more fast and furious than I expected.  My computer time was so limited that I was frantically trying to get out our story, with no time to respond to your questions and comments.  And I regret that, because I don’t think I can express how much all your encouragement, prayers and links meant to me.  Each night I had just enough time to scroll very quickly through the day’s comments, and several times your sweet words had me in a puddle of tears.  It’s a big world, and the blogosphere is a vast place, but you all made me feel like I had a suitcase full of friends on the trip with me.

Many of you have e-mailed or commented some excellent questions about Compassion, Uganda, and our trip in general.  I will be doing a Q&A post (or two or three!) in the coming weeks, so feel free to continue to send questions.  Don’t be afraid to ask the hard ones.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does. 

Thank you, most especially, to those of you who opened up your hearts to sponsor a Compassion child.  I have seen with my own eyes the kind of effort and efficiency this organization devotes to such important work.  They were completely transparent with us about their operation and finances, and I cannot emphasize enough how confidently I endorse them.  You new sponsors are not going to be disappointed—get ready for your heart to be changed as you start to correspond with your sponsor child. 

Are you tired of Africa stories yet?  I hope not.  I still have so much to tell you, though I’ll probably be spacing it out over the coming weeks.  Even with all the heart-rending things we saw, there was an endless supply of laughter.  There were bats and monkeys and security guards and exotic foods and mosquitoes and a team of some of the most talented people I’ve ever met.  Funny stories?  Oh, you bet.

Bear with me in the coming days.  I’m not sure yet if I’ll feel like blogging my heart out, or if I’ll need to step away for a few days.  I’m just going to take each day as it comes.  But I’m still here, jet-lagged and hungry and happy and full of thanks for all of you.

96 thoughts on “So THIS Is What Early Morning Looks Like

  1. Lori says:

    Can you tell me how they go about choosing which of the children out of the four or six in the family, gets to be the one sponsered, and going to school? And taking one step back from that, how do they go about picking THAT family, out of the community?

  2. Rebecca says:

    Welcome back, Shannon!
    My trip to Nicaragua in 2004 left me feeling a bit like you’re feeling, although I can’t really describe that feeling. (I’ll bet you know what I mean.)
    Enjoy your family, get some rest, and come back to us when you’re ready. But thanks for blogging this morning. I’m glad to know you’re home safe and sound.

  3. Edi says:

    Welcome back!
    I know when my sister came back from a foreign mission trip – the “culture shock” wasn’t so much when they arrived in the foreign land – but when they arrived back home.

  4. Georgia Mom says:

    Welcome Home!! I’m thankful the Lord brought you back safe, sound and changed. We’ll never get tired of Africa stories, so you just keep sharing them. It’s life changing for all of us!

  5. Katie says:

    I’m glad you’re home safe. I have to admit you have the sweetest voice as I’ve heard it on the many videos of the trip. Here’s my question, how do you adapt back to home? You commented a few posts ago about not seeling everything, but listening to God and following his direction. I know that’s the ultimate answer, but what should we do? Your trip has changed my heart. Thank you!

  6. Fran says:

    Welcome home Shannon….
    I’m so glad to know that you are home safely and near your family. You have so much catching up to do on so many things.
    Much love to you and I’ll never tire of hearing about Africa. Bring it on!

  7. Linda Sue says:

    I must be tied to your biological clock – I was awake at 4 this morning – praying through my “list” and wondering what the Lord had in mind today. SOOOO thrilled your homecoming was all you could wish for -sorry that your little one went through the flu without you to take care of him but isn’t it cool that you have confirmation again the Lord provides.Bless you Shannon – thank you for your open heart and sense of humor!

  8. Michelle says:

    I am so thankful you are home safe!! We’ve been praying for you and your team throughout the week. I can’t wait to hear more, I feel sure that you will continue blessing us and touching our lives.
    We love you girl and are so incredibly proud of you :)!

  9. Llama Momma says:

    I’m so glad you made it home safely. I’ve been praying for you and your team, and I can’t tell you how it has changed me.
    We’ve supported compassion for years. In fact, our compassion “child” is now an adult on his own. We still need to sign up for a new one. Our last check to them went undesignated, which is fine I suppose. But the giving was getting to be too routine, I think. I’m back to the heart of it — the children.
    So thank you, Shannon. I’ll continue to follow all of the stories…what an amazing time.

  10. Kelly S. says:

    Welcome home.
    Our family felt like we were there, through all the bloggers and the stories.
    I will never get tired of hearing about the trip, so please tell us EVERYTHING as it comes to you.
    PS I’d like to know, what was the hardest part for you PHYSICALLY (not emotions) but was it not having the food you are used to, stress of being away, bugs, heat, etc…
    Kelly S.

  11. Alana says:

    Welcome Home! I am glad you are back safely and reunited with your family. We are looking forward to learning more about our little boy our family just sponsored. Thank you for bringing Compassion to us.

  12. Biz says:

    My trip to South Africa last August left me in the same daze upon returning to the States. It’s just something you can’t put into words when you’ve walked amoung the impoverished and suffering beautiful people of Africa. Thank you for writing about it!
    I signed up this weekend to sponsor a little angel in Ethiopia (one of my dream countries to visit and serve) so thank you for your story!
    Try not to go to bed before 8pm, that’ll kick the jetlag in fewer days! No naps! haha
    peace to you!

  13. Prisca says:

    Welcome Home, Shannon! Don’t rush to readjust. Life IS different for you now. Let the trip continue to do its work on your mind and heart.
    One caveat from my own previous mission work: DO NOT rush into any ‘big box’ stores right away– they’ll blow your mind and I don’t mean in a good way. The abundance can be disorienting and disgusting.
    It’s great to have you back!

  14. David Kuo says:

    You are a wonder and this is just a beautiful, beautiful, true post. I’ll never, ever forget you in that ‘house’ on our first day there, sitting next to Anne – never forget your prayers and your peace and grace.

  15. Megan says:

    Nice to see you back! I hope your transition back goes smoothly and that you are sleeping well (and at the proper times) again soon.
    PS – After reading your second paragraph above, I started crying again. Your trip has had a pretty profound impact on me as well.

  16. Amy says:

    Coming back from overseas is always harder than going there, in terms of jet lag. Try not to nap today, and try to go to bed at your usual time, and you should be back to normal in a day or two.
    It sounds, though, like your heart won’t ever be back to normal. I’m so proud of you for facing your fears and going in spite of them. You are a real trooper. I hope you came back with a renewed confidence in yourself, and a sense of your own ability to do amazing things.

  17. Jenni says:

    Ppppbbbtt! National Security indeed…I’m sure y’all looked like quite the threat.
    Pace yourself as you head back into the swing of things, Shannon…we’ll all still be here whenever you post! Besides, we need time to recover in between and restock the tissue supplies…
    (((((HUGS)))))

  18. Robin says:

    Welcome home, yes…it’s the sweetest of meetings I imagine.
    It’ll be a treat watching you process your trip; for those like me who’ve never had the privilege of “going”…we can at least live vicariously through your eyes and experiences.
    A little smile came across my lips during the reading of this post as I misread that you had seen “bat monkeys” and I thought, “Well THAT’S a new one on me!” Ha!
    Praying for you at the oddest of times (to me), but probably when you could use ’em. Funny how the bsphere puts people on your heart that you’ve never even met…and yet…you’re hardly a stranger.
    Peace :).

  19. Happi says:

    Shannon, I have been lurking for some time on your blog, but I had to just thank you for your posts. Ironically, right when you all were in Uganda, I called Compassion to set us up on autopay for our child in El Salvador. We have sponsored her for 8 years. I was so saddened to find out that she left the program to go into the marketplace to work for her family. They told me I could sponsor another one and that they would be sending us a child to consider. I have to say that I have been so moved by your interaction with the children of Uganda that I have decided we will sponsor one there.
    Thanks again for your thoughtful, insightful posts and for reminding us that this world is vast and that we are so wealthy in so many ways. I know I take it for granted.
    May you find rest, love, and peace this week as you settle in back home.
    ~Happi

  20. JanMary, N Ireland says:

    Welcome home.
    Hope your body gets caught up on sleep soon, and then we look forward to hearing ALL about it – no apologies for long and detailed posts – we want to hear, as soon as you are ready.
    Blessings on you and yours, and on all those you met in Uganda.

  21. A&EMom says:

    Welcome back to the Sooner State! Thank you for posting your safe return. I will happily follow along any journeys you wish to share. My eyes have been glued to the screen and I can’t get enough of those beautiful people and welcome the conviction on my heart. Take a break, love on your family and then come back and visit!

  22. Jai says:

    Welcome home! Glad you are back safe and sound. Thank you for pouring your heart out in your entries. I look so forward to more stories in the coming weeks.
    Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone.

  23. Laura says:

    Thank you so much for sharing honestly and with a transparent heart. Your writing has moved my heart and we will sponsor one of those precious faces that you have actually put a name and a story to. Welcome home….hold your babies tight…it will be good for your heart.

  24. Erin K says:

    Glad you made it home! I must tell you that I almost dread coming to your blog, but I feel compelled to visit. I dread it because I know I’ll end up with tears in my eyes, and because it reminds me what a comfortable life I have and maybe God wants me to *do* something to help others. Gosh – how selfish is that?? I guess that’s the bottom line – reading your stories and seeing your pictures makes me confront my selfish nature. Yuck.
    But oh what joy and hope and love can be seen in these faces and in these stories!! Thank you a million times over for sharing all of this. I’ll get over my selfish nature and eventually will embrace the fact that God is trying to motivate me to action through this.
    I look forward to hearing more about your time in Africa, as you are able to share it. For now, take all the time you need to rest and eat and process things and love on your family!!

  25. keri says:

    hi, i haven’t commented through your trip…but i’ve been following. and i’ve been so touched to hear about your journey. thanks for bringing africa to us through your words and pictures and stories. i especially loved seeing the video of you meeting your boy on carlos’ site (he is a friend, i went to college with him 🙂 )
    take your time to digest it all…i look forward to hearing more!

  26. Amy says:

    I’m glad you’re home safe and sound. I’ve been reading along and praying and sometimes trying to read your entries through the tears in my eyes. Can’t wait to hear even more after you get a chance to relax a bit and settle in at home.

  27. Amy says:

    Oh– forgot to add this to my comment above. Back in college I spent a week on a cultural immersion trip, living with a very poor family in Mexico. I will tell you that it took me a long time to get over feeling selfish and spoiled when I came home- the clean water, abundant supply of food, and everything else we take for granted has never quite looked the same to me. I would imagine that you’ll go through something similar… and sharing that with the bloggy world will be a great little reminder for the rest of us.

  28. Amy says:

    I’m apparently going to spend my morning hogging your comment section. The ramblings about my Mexico trip came before I read your post about survivor’s guilt. Exactly what I meant. I’ll stop commenting now. 😉

  29. Ann @ Holy Experience says:

    The world is all wrong.
    But people like you, with Jesus shining through the cracks, make it all a bit more right.
    He’s cupping you in the hollow of His hand. Just rest, Shannon.
    I send much love….
    Ann

  30. Robinznest says:

    I have to tell you Shannon, that your posts about your trip are changing my heart. I don’t know exactly what God has in mind, it may be small or it may be big. All I know is that I am listening. And He is speaking through your words. Thank you.

  31. Marianne says:

    Happy to know you’re home safely.
    Bet that cheeseburger was a slice of heaven!
    I’m curious to know how many people (like myself) signed up to sponsor a child because of your trip/blogging/photos? Will you be putting a poll/post up to get the full count?
    It would be an amazing lesson on just how much good can come from one person sharing their story.
    Thanks! And I’m looking foward to more Africa stories!

  32. Lari says:

    Shannon,
    You’ve done such a great job of expressing your feelings about your trip and sharing the experience w/ the rest of us. I lived in that part of the world for a while and this really brought me back. Thank you. Enjoy your family and hope you can get some rest.

  33. Michelle says:

    Welcome home! I hope you had a diet coke with that cheeseburger. I showed the picture of you and Dissan to my 4-year-old and told her a little bit about your trip. She said, “Mommy, I want to send him some of my toys.” You’re touching many children’s lives.
    I hope you can get some rest. I look forward to more stories from Africa.

  34. Gretchen says:

    Welcome Home! I also traveled to Africa, (Kenya), a few years ago, and re-entry can be tough. So be kind to yourself and let yourself be outraged and sad sometimes. I found the excess of the local grocery store to be the hardest. (Never mind going near a mall)! And the teenagers who have “no idea” still make me shake my head.
    Anyway, long story short – I found your blog yesterday, read through much of it, linked to Compassion, and my family ended up sponsoring a boy the same age as my son (17) in Kenya. All in a matter of hours! I have been looking for something like this for a while.
    God is at work! Thank you for helping Him!
    (But can I change your mind about cats? I have more than a few and they are very sweet)!

  35. Jean Stockdale says:

    So glad you are home safe and sound. I can tell that your heart has outgrown your chest and that you will never view the world the same. Traveling to the uttermost parts of the world makes the world seem small and our God seem BIG! Blessings as you process all you have seen and heard and pass it on along with your mother’s heart.

  36. Patty says:

    Welcome home! I am glad that you made the entire trip safe and sound. Enjoy time with your family, and don’t worry the story will come.

  37. Erin says:

    Welcome home! i am glad to know that you made it home safe! Enjoy your family time…we will be here ready for more stories when you are finished!

  38. lylah ledner says:

    isn’t it so good to be home? and…the jet lag thing – it’ll last for a least a week – so should be fun to see what early am musings you have and get to post….
    so delighted the trip was so God.
    blessings…lylah

  39. Brenda says:

    Welcome Back Shannon – Thanks to your writing and endorsement, our family adopted Solange from Rwanda last night. My kids are so excited to find out more about her and I think this will be a wonderful opportunity to teach them about the world and our responsibility to care for eachother. Thank you again! Hugs

  40. Stephanie says:

    I’m definitely not tired of your stories! I don’t always have time to leave a comment, but I have been following you along this jorney with your posts and I have been truly blessed by your sharing, so thank you! And share away! I can’t wait to read more!

  41. Kris says:

    Welcome home! I enjoyed reading all of your posts, even when they made me cry. Your safe return home is an answer to many prayers. Now, go rest. 😉

  42. Molly says:

    Glad you are home safe and sound! Answer to prayer. God is so good and faithful! I look forward to hearing more about your trip. Enjoy your family time! 🙂

  43. Another Kris! says:

    Shannon, I am so glad that you are home. Know that although you can’t fix everything that’s wrong with the world, your trip inspired many, MANY people to help out by sponsoring a child, myself being one. Each time I read your blog the psat ten days I was moved to tears. I will never think of Africa the same way. I wish you and your family peace & happiness and thank you for making such a huge difference in all of our lives, especially the kids whose lives are yet to be touched by their sponsors!

  44. edj says:

    UGH. Jet lag and re-entry shock. I can relate. My advice? Take it easy, rest, spend time with your family, and don’t worry about your twin issues–you will adjust back just fine. Rest is key. Also, try to avoid shopping (coffee is okay, or in your case I believe it’s Diet Coke?) for as long as possible.
    And, we DO want to keep hearing about Africa! That can be hard, when you have an overwhelming amount to tell and people really don’t want to hear it. But you’ve got the perfect forum, and a committed audience! I’m looking forward to MANY more stories.

  45. courtney orrange says:

    Definitely make sure that you find time and people to debrief with. Call some of your teammates. They are likely feeling similar feelings. Get together with your missions pastor or someone who has done a lot of overseas work. Spend purposeful time processing with your husband. Culture shock can be hardest when you are re-entering the US.
    glad you’re trip was great!

  46. Shalee says:

    Oh, you’re home! It’s good to have you back safe and sound. We’re ready to read your stories when you’re ready to write them. We’re not going any where so you just take some time to hug your babies and your man a bit more before you get back to us.

  47. Tracy says:

    Welcome home!! What a precious gift you have been given with your travels. I have been reading your posts and enjoying them so much. I agree on the no shopping trips…after spending 7 weeks in Kazakhstan for the adoption of my oldest, I had to go to Target when I got home for necessities…it was horrid. I left with not even a quarter of my list, it was so overwhelming and just terrible. I tried to explain to people, but they just didn’t understand. Driving was hard to….just take your time.

  48. Michelle says:

    welcome home shannon.I loved seeing the pictures of you and “your boy”together at the table and also with the soccer ball..I have tears in my eyes thinking of all those lovely children.like everyone else is saying take it easy on the everyday things..hugs

  49. momrn2 says:

    Rest and catch up with your family!!! We’ll be here waiting whenever you are ready to blog and eager to read whatever you choose to share!!! 🙂
    Welcome Home friend!!

  50. Lightening says:

    Well I’ve only been reading since just before you left so all I really know of your blog is stories about this trip. 🙂 But I’d LOVE to hear more.
    And you made me cry!!!! But not in a bad way I don’t think.
    (((HUGS))) Don’t be afraid to give yourself some time to reconnect with your family and process what you’ve seen and been through. We’ll all be waiting when you’re ready.

  51. amy says:

    Glad you made a safe trip. We could not possibly be tired of y’alls Africa stories… in fact, I fear when you don’t tell them. I may just have to check the archives now and then to help soften my jaded American heart. God has blessed thru your experience ~ thank you for sharing!

  52. Kari says:

    YAH! Soo glad that y’all are home safe and sound…rest and sleep dear one! Let God take care and filter through for you all the thoughts and feelings from your trip! We can’t wait to hear all about it!! Through reading your blog and Boo Mama’s…my husband and I have begun to sponsor our own “adopted son”, Bwire from Uganda! We are thrilled to pieces!! Thank you thank you!
    Question:
    What kind of education support/help is Compassion able to give the children? What did you see while you were there?
    I’ll never tire of your stories…share what you want as much as you want!! God bless!
    Kari

  53. Absolutely Bananas says:

    Shannon,
    Reading through your notes from the trip is so amazing. I’m glad you’re home safe and sound and I’m glad you took this trip so the rest of us can be inspired to do more ourselves.
    Revel in your homecoming!

  54. Jenny says:

    Take your time in getting back into your routine! I can’t wait to hear all of your stories. Mainly I can’t wait to get my package on the child we sponsored, Onesmus. I wrote a post on him with his picture if you are up and need somewhere to visit.
    Thanks for sharing with us, we are going tonight to an informational meeting on a mexico trip to help local churches. I have gone once before and now my husband says he will go. I’m excited and scared because its a hard trip, but great all at the same time! Sorry for the book long post…

  55. jamie says:

    I always thought that sponsoring a child was something that people with extra cash could afford, not us. 2 kids, we rent an apartment, 1 car, 1 income, pretty strapped at the end of the month, but after I read you and your peers blogs about these kids, it just made me realize how very much we have and how silly I can be worried about money. I was just complaining because I didn’t get a Christmas present because we couldnt afford it. I wanted some new clothes (my baby weight has me wearing a different size ugh!) and then when I read your blog it just put it all in perspective. Who cares if I wear my old rags til next Christmas? My husband loves me just the same and my kids are beautiful and healthy. We dont have extra money but we never have to worry about food. And who cares if I die having rented my whole life. Buying a place doesnt equate happiness. Then the other thing that seemed daunting about the compassion program was the writing letters part. what do you say to someone in that situation? How do you positively affect these children? Can I really love someone I dont know, I mean really? I was scared that I’d drop the ball on that part. That I could send money in a moment of feeling bad for these kids but could I keep it up for 15 years? Could I write letters and love this kid? I dont know and I dont want to over think it. All I can do is pray about it. This has made me leave my comfort zone and I think that’s the only way to really lead to growth. We’ve adopted Ronaldo from Nicaragua today and I’m so happy we did. I’m already writing letters to him in my head and finding stickers he might like that I could include. I want to make Ronaldo happy, even for just a moment. So yes, I guess I can love a little kid I’ve never met. I’m so happy to have read your blogs. I walk both nervously and exhilarated down this new path. Thank you for this Shannon.

  56. Anna says:

    Oh, my goodness. I arrived here via Bonny Glen, then Homeschooler Hack (WFMW), and finally here. And, I have read some of your stories from Africa. And trying very hard not to weep uncontrollably, so I don’t scare the kids. I can’t even… thank you.

  57. cyn says:

    Don’t you feel guilty about plopping on that couch. When I returned from Russia, I jumped right back in assumming I could get back to my regular schedule. I made it worse. I came home exhausted but convinced my family and all needed me so I would not nap or go to bed early.
    Go ahead, grab a kid or two and some books and you just veg. Your body gets back on track (if you let it). I won’t tell you how long it took me. 🙂

  58. Phil says:

    Shannon, you are a comment generating wonder!
    I have to tell you, diet and all, I ran to get the greasy goodness of a local burger place on the way home from the airport.
    My homecoming was precious, too.
    Thanks for being a part of the Ugandan experience. I know none of us will ever be the same, and I think that’s pretty good.
    And if I ever need a a glow in the dark curling iron, I’ll always know who to call.
    Grace,
    Phil

  59. Smylie says:

    Just started reading your blog.. so I’m new here. I love your stories of Africa, have put the Compassion banner on my blog, and have gleaned SO MUCH inspiration from your stories. You’re an amazing woman. Your reunion at the airport with your family just brought me to tears. Thank you. When I grow up, I am going to go to Africa, too:)

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