Putting Up Corn – A Farewell to SoIL

I’ve been going back and forth from feeling calm, surreal, that this whole Peace Corps thing might happen sometime in the future, and completely terrified. We could count down to our departure in hours now instead of days. We’ve spent our last two weeks in the states with my family in southern Illinois. The closer we get to leaving, the more I find myself worrying about what to pack for two years, how homesick I may become, and how I don’t yet know the language. I’m fearful of that barrier to connection. The sadness of goodbyes threatens to overwhelm me. I start to wonder if we really can do this.

One day last week we put up corn for my grandmother. If you’ve never had good Midwestern sweet corn, you have not really lived. It’s best in season, but to have good corn in the winter you get messy, cut it off the cob, and freeze it. It’s the closest you can get to the real thing, and so much better than canned corn from the store. We took my grandma 11 quarts of goodness.


We have but one night left with family before we leave for 27 months. When I think in terms of how many hours I have left for connection, the sadness starts to creep in. So for now, I’m trying to soak up as much love as possible. Like storing corn for the winter, we’re preparing our hearts to not have access to our family. But the memories, stories, and love can surpass time and distance. We’re so thankful for this precious time we’ve had with them.

Each kernel we store away in our hearts will help sustain us on our lonely nights and homesick days.

Dinners and my Evangelist Blessing.
Food and lazing in the water of a pond/pool/river.
Banjo, fiddle, and guitar.
Starry nights and shootings stars.
Star Wars and ladies tournament.
Talks and tears.

It may have taken us 3616.6 miles to get here, but now that we’re here, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Time to put up a little more corn.

What memories have you stored away that give you comfort?


4 thoughts on “Putting Up Corn – A Farewell to SoIL”

  1. I’m so grateful for the connections you’ve had with your family and friends there at your home! I know tomorrow will be wonderful and scary and sad, make sure and take a Kleenex for your Mom!

    Memories that I’ve stored away of you and Andrew that will help me are numerous: pinochle around the kitchen table at the homestead, singing at TCC and in choir and in the car, talks around our firepit, laughing nearly everywhere we are together, eating at Sushihana and seeing your joy there!, watching Andrew with his sibs playing ping pong, bball or xbox, watching the love between you as you plan your activities or budget and as you interact with your family and friends.

    All my love, Mamma

  2. Emily, I have been following your blog with great interest. I was a high school friend of Erik’s and have enjoyed watching his family from afar. Your comments above remind me of when I went to Japan for a year as an exchange student when I was 15. I grew up in Harbor Beach and found myself at 15 flying to a small city in Japan where I was the only foreigner in town. Certainly very different than the journey you are embarking on but what struck a note for me was your comment about the language. I didn’t know any Japanese when I left…. I barely knew first year high school Spanish. I wasn’t skilled in languages…. You could easily say I didn’t know anything…. But I went with a sense of adventure and I learned the language so quickly, you would be amazed. I’m sure I made mistakes in tenses and forms of speech but I learned. Immersion is a great way to learn. I could still say I don’t know much of anything but I would like to set your mind at ease about the language… You will learn and my bet is very quickly. You’ll learn words, them phrases then whole sentences…. And before you know it, you’ll be dreaming in your new language. You’ve got this! Thanks for sharing your adventure through your blog!

  3. So beautiful, Emily. I was skimming through our blog to look for a former post, and my heart was so warmed by the memories of this priceless time in SOIL. What a treasure this blog is, and will be, as time tries to fade away our memories of past moments well-lived. I had almost forgotten about the ladies tournament!

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