I landed in Michigan on June 28th and was greeted at the airport by my friend Christine and her daughter Debbie. Christine and her husband Gideon are Congolese who lived in Johannesburg for 13 years before immigrating to Ann Arbor, Michigan. I met Ireen on a bus while I was a grad student at UofM. We started talking and discovered that we actually lived right across the street from each other. We became good friends and I used to hang out with them and their African community in Michigan. They welcomed me into their home and Debbie and I did some serious hanging out. She is a bright, precocious 13 year old (doesn't she look like she's 20?!?) who kept me very entertained while I was with them. I spent some time with good friends from church and the Air Quality Lab at University if Michigan. It was the first time back since I left two years ago, and it was like a homecoming as well. My life has been so blessed by good people, and the three years that I spent in Michigan were made especially rich by such friends. The years I spent there were not easy. I dropped out of my PhD program there and passed through thick depression. But in spite of that, my life was so good there. I spent time biking along the Huron river again and enjoyed its serenity. I went with friends from the lab to dinner at Jerusalem Garden (yum!) and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. I met up with the Downie sisters and Amy Jeppson and other wonderful friends for July 4th festivities. Michigan is exquisitely beautiful in the summer, and I enjoyed every minute of being back. My life has been so blessed!! The one thing I did not have good luck with is my car. Daisy is a 1971 VW Superbeetle in need of a full-body makeover. Because of the holiday weekend, I wasn't able to find a shop that I trust enough to restore her. That means I'll have to head back to Ann Arbor to work on that either in December or next summer. I'm looking forward to it!
During my entire trip I was reading self-help books to try to deal with my codependent tendencies. As a result, I was feeling more and more insecure and less and less inclined to go to my college reunion and see people I hadn't seen in 10 years. So I chickened out and diverted my flight to Utah instead. My sister Honor rescued me at the airport and gave me a place to hide from the world for a bit, for which I'm so thankful. We had a good time talking and playing with her adorable, rambunctious little boy, Grant. Her husband was really sweet to accomodate having me crash thier guest room for a couple of weeks. By the end of my visit with her, I was feeling a little more confident, so I called up some of my mission companions living in Utah and we got together. It was wonderful to reminisce and catch up with them. I can't believe it's already been 8 years since we were in Africa together! Where does the time go? They are such wonderful, intelligent, beautiful women who inspire me to be a better human being. I was so grateful to come out of my shell in time to see them.
I spent 2 more weeks at home with my family in California, which was wonderful! I was still pretty emotionally stirred up inside and was grateful to be safe at home. I spent good quality time with Clay and Cullen and Cammie (siblings living nearby home) and my parents. I saw some old friends from high school and caught up a little bit. I bought massive amounts of summer clothing to wear for the next year in Majuro as well as lots of antibacterial soaps and gels. My mother (bless her heart) woke up early again to drive to the airport for the 5th time of the summer to drop me off, and I made it back safe and sound to Majuro.