Today I have finally given in and started a blog!
I have a few friends who graciously want to know how I am – having just moved ‘back home’ from Switzerland to N.Ireland after 17 years – and for their sake and for anyone else who may want to read my ramblings, I have decided to put them on a blog rather than paste and copy text into emails:-)
So……to bring this blog up-to-date, here are a few things I have written since arriving in N.Ireland on 16 July
We are beginning to settle down here. It seems it is only now that we can really begin to settle in. We were here for 10 days, during which time we were furiously unpacking all our boxes, then we were on holiday in Hawaii for 10 days (which was great!), then we were back in our house for 2 nights before leaving again for a family wedding.
We are all coping with culture shock on various levels and are aware that it will take some time to really settle in for, although we come from N.Ireland, it has been 17 years since Alan and I lived here. Culture shock has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous – I had a very pleasant surprise when I went to the local dump with an assortment of stuff which I didn’t know what to do with – the man in charge approached me and, instead of telling me off Swiss-style, kindly offered to relieve me of my burden and said what a lovely day it was! Our sortie to the local supermarket was less encouraging as we fruitlessly searched for products which didn’t seem to exist and which the employee we asked had never heard of!
But we are aware that these are all normal things to cope with and we will eventually feel ‘at home’ here. Already we feel very much at home in our new house where we are very comfortable and are all enjoying the extra space and the ease of having people round.
I feel we are still in the limelight as the new pastoral family (along with the new youth pastor and his family) – in fact this Friday night they are having a BBQ for us to get to know us and then the women are having an evening to get to know the youth pastor’s wife and me – we will both be glad when that’s over!!! But the church has been so welcoming and caring, it has been tremendous…..
In fact, our stuff was 24 hours late arriving from Switzerland when we first got here and the church provided not only food, flowers and much-needed toilet roll for our new home (!) but then went off and got us bed linen, towels etc. for our first night here. We have been warmly welcomed from the word go and the care has been almost tangible. It has been humbling and exciting to be the people ‘in need’ rather than the people who reach out to those in need – what a privilege to be part of a church family which shows its care in such positive and practical ways. It has reminded me again that, no matter where one goes in the world, one can feel an instant bonding with those who love the Lord.
We have had mountains of paperwork to do – it seems like each day there is another form to fill in for something: new driving licences (I had lost my Swiss one but fortunately found it again so I could surrender it and have it replaced by a UK one!), car insurance, house insurance, car tax, child benefit, bank cards, credit cards (you wouldn’t believe how difficult it has been to get a credit card – you have to have lived in the UK for at least 12 months with most companies!). And I had to give up on a mobile phone – you have to have lived in the UK for 3 years to get one!
Anyway, this is catch-up. I will write more later about my impressions of moving back home – what makes a place ‘home’ anyway? why do we feel at home in one place and not another? what does it mean to feel ‘at home’?