I have a very clear memory from our pre-service training in Batu. It was the end of the first week. Will and I were walking home from class and he said, “Well, one week down, 114 to go.” It felt so daunting.
Somehow, we now find ourselves on the other end of that—114 weeks down, one to go. Never again in our lives will we measure a two year period (or 26 months to be more accurate) with such precision. While the time went fast, it was still two years, and things have changed for us and things have changed in the world.
In our time here the Kentucky Wildcats won their 8th NCAA basketball championship (and almost their 9th). There were tragic mass shootings including one at Sandy Hook elementary school and a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Barack Obama came out in support of gay marriage and was re-elected. Syrian protests escalated into a civil war. A new and more progressive Pope was chosen. A royal baby was born. There was a tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon. 7.1 million people signed up for the Affordable Care Act. Same-sex marriage became federally recognized (and the Peace Corps started accepting same-sex married couples). Nelson Mandela passed away. Putin invaded the Ukraine and a Malaysian airplane went missing. Oh yeah, and Beyonce came out with a killer album.
For friends and family back home there were some wonderful life events. Several good friends got married. Sixteen of our close friends brought new people into the world. To Maddy, Eleanor, Lila, Amelia, Max, Lucie, Davis, Addie, Louis, Beckham, Camden, Jamie, Katie, Nina, Matteo, and Brady congratulations on being born to some truly wonderful parents.
There were personally sad times during these 26 months. Three friends lost parents while we were gone and we wished we could have been closer. And then we did too. We’ll be going back to a very different world without Will’s dad and my grandma.
While we were here we made some amazing new friends. Real friends. Friends that really pull through for you in hard times. Friends that can make you laugh. Friends that share their care packages.
We learned a new language together. We learned to cook a Mexican meal from scratch. We learned how to fry tempeh. We learned how to eat with our hands and our bodies became used to spicy food. I learned that getting deodorant on the knees of my pants is just a hazard of the squatty potty. We learned what it feels like to chew on volcanic ash.
We saw my parents Peter and Debra, Will’s mom Betty Jane, my cousins Steve, Stephanie and Brent, our former boss Ben, and our friends Michael, Scott, Carolyn and Mitch here in Indonesia—many of them came to our site. How lucky are we?
We met orangutans and lazed about on white sand beaches. We saw ancient temples. Will ran his first half marathon—around a volcano. We visited Australia and Malaysia. We went to Bali seven times.
We held camps, started clubs and connected with our students. We were accepted into families and we will be sad to leave our adopted mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews. Life will be a little different when our weeks don’t include the usual visits to our favorite food stalls in our village, playing Uno with our 9 and 10 year old neighbors, or having the daily exchange with the people on our street that we wave and yell good morning to on our way to school.
We were high school English teachers. We were Peace Corps Volunteers. We had two years we will never forget.