For me, the most difficult part of living in another country is being away from people. To be honest, most of the time I don’t really miss my friends and family, but perhaps that is because modern technology allows me to stay in touch with them almost as well as if I only lived across the country.
The reality is, I don’t. This makes for a few tough scenarios. One is obvious: while I am still technically just a plane ride away (as I was in Chicago), it is a very long and expensive plane ride, making it difficult for me to realistically fly back and forth. This means I have missed several events in my one year in South Africa that I would not have missed had I been anywhere in the continental United States. For example, I have a nephew who will have his first birthday in a couple of weeks, and I am yet to meet him. That simply would not have happened. I have also missed several weddings and even a family reunion to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my grandparents: an event I may never live down (or forget) missing.
Aside from missing events such as these, there is one other thing I really miss: phone calls. For one thing, it is expensive to call here, so it just doesn’t make sense for anyone to phone me when we can speak for free over skype or I can phone the US for something like 1/10 the cost of someone phoning me from there.
So yes: we have skype. Honestly, it has rescued me from more than one of “those days” when I just really needed someone from “home” to talk to. But when those moments come, or when I remember it is a birthday and want to phone and wish you the best, or when I see something that I would like to send in a picture message (from one phone to the next), the computer and internet and skype are not always convenient. Nor available. Nor functioning with a proper connection. Or if they are, the time of the day is off just enough that while I’d like to phone you on my lunch break, something tells me you wouldn’t appreciate a 6am wake up call.
Today was one of those days for me. All is well in the camp here, but it would sure be nice to pick up a phone sometimes. But I’m sure life will go on and all will be well tomorrow. So thanks for reading my rant, and while you’re at it, I invite you to lift up a little prayer for whoever else in the world may be feeling this way at the time you’re reading this.