Our hearts are full after two weeks in Illinois! Jack’s parents live here, as well as so many friends that we’ve made since moving into the camper two years ago. Connecting with people and advocating for people without Scripture in their heart language are our favorite things to do!
Jack had multiple opportunities to speak at church, kids’ church, and school chapels. He also was a guest speaker in his mom’s high school Spanish class - getting everyone excited about language!
Our kids had play date after play date, as well as a very special birthday party! We tie-dyed shirts with Grandma and played many rounds of UNO Flip. We visited the school to see Grandma and Grandpa in action, teaching in their classrooms. Jack’s Grandpa Jack came for a weekend, along with Jack’s Uncle Mike and Aunt Maggie. We really enjoyed spending time with them! We were able to attend the spring musical showcase at school, where Grandma and Grandpa sang a medley from Les Miserables. We girls went out to get our nails done and we made waffles... these little day-to-day memories add up so quickly and give our kids such sweet time with their grandparents.
Had we been able to go to France in January, we would not have been able to see these people again for a while. We’re so thankful for an extra visit!
As we leave (again) and say goodbye (again), our family has had some really precious conversations. I describe our life as an “&” - every bit of our mobile, international life is both amazing and difficult at the same time. Leaving is really sad, but arriving is really fun! The idea of an “ampersand” life is from a book I’ve read multiple times (Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids by Lauren Wells), and I really appreciate the concept.
We’re teaching our kids that it’s okay to feel really happy and really sad at the same time, for different reasons. We’ve held Lucy while she cried over good-byes and celebrated birthdays with her and her sweet friends! We’ve listened to all of Titus’ concerns and reveled with him in the feeling of taking off in an airplane! (His engineering brain needs to understand the big picture timeline of the next five years, which is quite complicated!)
We’re all SO thankful for the direction God is leading our lives. We’re blown away that God is going to use us in this specific way, and we’re excited to get started!
In our training with Wycliffe in Orlando, we walked through the acronym “RAFT” for leaving a place well. I’ve mentally walked through these steps with our family every time we leave.
Reconciliation - making sure that there isn’t anything in the way of our relationships before we leave, whether that means we need to apologize or forgive or have a hard conversation
Affirmation - intentionally telling people how much they mean to us and what we love about them
Farewell - doing the hard work of actually saying “good-bye” rather than pretending it isn’t a part of our lives, or shrinking away early so as not to feel the sadness of leaving
Talk ahead - spend lots of time researching and talking about the next place we’ll be... today in the car we had a long conversation about how to hail a cab in Abidjan!
When we leave well, we’re able to begin well in a new place.
Today with the kids, we remembered how faithful God has been to us through the past few years in particular. We’ve seen what it looks like for God to carry us through a good-bye transition. We’ve experienced what it feels like to make friends in a new place. We’ve seen God provide for our needs as a family in a new place. We’ve seen ourselves adapt to new living situations and a new church family. We’ve practiced making new friends and diving right into a new community. We can now look back over the years and see genuine, deep, Christ-centered relationships that have been built literally all over the country. We have the Body of Christ in so many places. And we know that God has prepared friends and community for us on waiting continents over the next few years - JUST like He prepared our communities beforehand in Illinois, Virginia, Michigan, and Texas. God is so good!
How to pray intentionally for us these days...
As of today, we have all of our paperwork from our school in order to apply for a visa. Praise God that things are moving forward!
We’re traveling back to Virginia this week, so pray for safety, as always.
Pray for peace of mind for our kids, as they will be taking VA’s required standardized tests next week.
Pray for the friends and family that we’re leaving in each place we live. Pray that God would comfort them and encourage them with an eternal perspective. I know it’s harder to stay behind than it is to go, and I’m well-aware that we’re choosing this life for everyone around us, especially the amazingly supportive grandparents.