On October 14th, 2008 at about midnight we stepped off an airplane into our new city, jet lagged and ready to find a bed. It was a Tuesday night. We had been traveling since Monday morning. Our plane left Houston at 6:00 AM. We were so glad to get here...then the fun began.
We'd said goodbye to our families and friends, knowing that for many of them we wouldn't see them again for a few years (3? 4? 5?) and knowing that some we would never see again this side of heaven. We have lost several, some closer than others. But that's not the point...the point is, well, I think I have a few points.
1) We made it. There have been several days when I was ready to go back home and stop this crazy ride. I'm a "homebody". I like to come home and stay. This place has not felt like home, until recently, and then it's a new kind of home.
2) I can survive without seeing my peeps. I'm a people person. The people over here have not "warmed up" to me as of yet. I miss my mom, friends, family, and generally the people who love me! God bless the creator of SKYPE.com!
3) I can survive in the land of seafood!...and even gain weight! Although there are many things that I don't care for, I have found that my taste buds have adjusted. There are things that we ate all the time at this time last year that we never eat because we don't really care for them anymore. Strange huh? Not to mention that we have a McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Papa John's and a Dairy Queen in our city. We limit ourselves on how much "western food" we eat, but do reward ourselves about....mmm...once a week with one of the above.
4) Anyone ever seen "While You Were Sleeping"? Sandra Bullocks' character wants to have stamps in her passport. Me too. Although I traveled a little when I was 17, I've never been very far from home (my home state) for long. So, it's a neat thing to have all these stamps in my passport. As a matter of fact, I was telling the kids the other day, that they are blessed. How many 7 yr. olds (or even 14 yr. olds.) do you know that have been all over Asia and know their way around an airport and customs with no fear or apprehension?
5) God truly moves in mysterious ways. I have been moved out of my comfort zone. Before the move, I was a confident, fairly articulate professional who knew my strengths and weaknesses and was not afraid to step up and do what needed to be done. Since the move, I have found myself stuttering and unable to communicate in either language, lacking the confidence and boldness to speak up about anything. I have felt like God unzipped me from head to toe and turned me inside out to clean out spaces in my life I didn't know I had. To say it's been difficult would be an understatement. But worth it? Absolutely. I was comfortable and a little cocky. Now, I know I'm lost without Him. Before, I SAID I was lost without Him. There is a difference and I'm still learning all about it.
6) We are NOT HOME, yet. Home. Mmmm. I miss my house and land. But I've learned much about myself because it's gone. I was much more materialistic than I thought. Now, I have nothing. It's liberating. But more than that. Home is where I felt the most like myself. I was home in my house in the country. I was home in my classroom. I was home with my friends. I was home at church. I was home visiting our families. There's a part of me in all those places helping me to connect. Without those, or really any, connections I floundered. The longer I've lived here and with the little bit of traveling we've done since being here...it's nice to come home. Being here long enough has given us connections. Also, everything that has happened in the last year reminds me that this world is not my home. Here or with you, we're all destined for another place. Losing the loved ones I've lost this year sets my mind on seeing them there someday.
7) Growing up and out from the USA. While living in the states, I had one perspective on its inhabitants, now I have a somewhat different one. Now, I know that most of the people reading this are in the states, so please don't be offended. This is my lesson. My view of the world has changed. It really is a small place. In this country, I have met people who know where my hometown (Pop. 8,000 Salute!) is. Usually a foreigner passing through but still....Crazy. I see how the rest of the world views Americans and why. They think we are like "Hollywood". Yikes. One comment I heard was how normal I am. Uh-huh, most Americans are normal (don't go there!). Most of us get up, go to work, take care of our family, cook supper, do homework with our kids...normal things. Although the process of what all of that looks like over here is different...we look the same on the inside. Isn't that why God looks at the heart? We're all the same on the inside.
Ok. I know. I've gone on long enough, but the truth of the matter is that there's more. I know you get the picture. We all grow and change and as we've reflected on the changes in our family this year, we've been amazed. As a family we talked about what's been good? Hard? Bad? Still undecided about? And the truth is...we're right where God wants us to be.
So...One year down....how many more to go? We'll have to see. No definitive answer on that one yet.