As we prepare to leave the Philippines and return to the states, part of us is grieving and the other part is thrilled and bursting with anticipation. We grieve as we leave my students and the Faith Academy community, Alex’s staff, our neighbors, and other missionary families. We anxiously look forward to seeing family and good friends when we return. When you see us, here are some ways you can be patient with us.

    • “Welcome back to the states” may be better than “Welcome home.” We have two homes now. One is Manila and when you see us, we’ll have just left that home. We’re not sure yet if we’re leaving it for a little while, for a long while, or forever.

    • If we say “salamat!” we mean thank you.

    • If we say o’o, we doesn’t mean “uh-oh something is wrong,” but “yes.” We also mean yes if we say nothing but quickly raise our eyebrows twice.

    • In fact, our eyebrows may seem weird. Here in the Philippines, people raise their eyebrows to greet one another. Raised eyebrows and a smile are the way to acknowledge others as you pass them on the street, in the store, or in the office. When we first moved here, it felt flirty/awkward/creepy; now it’s natural for both of us. (On a side note, Alex admits that when we met in the states with a missionary to the Philippines, he at first thought this missionary had an eyebrow twitch. ; )

    • If we make kissy lips, we’re not trying to flirt; we’re just pointing.

    • If we say “po,” we’re using a title of respect similar to sir/maam.

    • If we say “joke lang!” we mean “just kidding!”

    • If we say “wala” or if we make jazz hands, we mean “no more, nothing, none.”

    • If we say, “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” we’re not lost; we know where we are. This is the slogan the Philippines Department of Tourism is using in marketing to attract tourists to explore and enjoy the country.  It’s also the saying many expats here use when they’re trying to keep the right perspective after they’re pulled over for “swerving,” their sink falls off the wall, or they find out their favorite restaurant in the mall no longer exists.  Watch the PDOT's awesome video here:

The list could go on, but I think I’ll stop here. You get the idea. Although there are foods we’re looking forward to eating, we also, ahem, need to be active to try to get rid of the extra pounds we brought back (not just in our suitcases!). We’d love to bike, hike, walk, enter a 5K, swim, exercise with you, right Alex? :D

There’s something really crazy about living in and beginning to adapt to another culture. Things that seem so strange at first end up defining the new cultural experience and develop into beloved qualities. New behaviors are embraced and practiced to the point where they belong not just to the culture at large but also to the expat. Alex and I have now developed a third culture which is some combination of the culture we left in the Chicago suburbs and the culture in which we live in Manila. It’s weird how that happens. When we return to the states, there will be parts of suburban culture we’ll step right back into without missing a beat and other parts that feel extremely strange or uncomfortable. So thanks for your patience with us as we potentially (and probably at least to some extent) experience “reverse culture shock” during our transition back to the states. We’re so blessed by and thankful for each of you on our support team. We look forward to seeing many of your faces soon. :D