It's that time again. Time to say goodbye. We won't likely be in America for another year...
Six big suitcases are lined up, a constant reminder that our time here is up. I hope I've remembered all we need, especially as I've guessed on clothes and shoe sizes for the girls for the next year (and Ellie is in bigger sizes than Hadassah was at this age!). I don't think I've ever been packed this early, but I worked hard during nap times to pack early enough that I'm not up until Midnight the night before we leave, as I usually am! We need to get what sleep we can. Especially as Ellie just started waking up once at night (with sometimes an hour before I'd like to wake up early morning feeding!) and we're about to switch TWO children with a 14 hour time zone change. I just don't even want to think about jet lag with two, especially after 18 hours of flying (and thus holding my baby most the time).
But we're leaving. I looked through pictures of our apartment with Hadassah this morning, to get in her mind where we're going. We're going back home. It's hard when home is so far from family, but it truly is home, where we have our things and rhythms and regular routines. It was fun to see the pictures, to remember all the work we put into it this summer, and know were are going to get to enjoy it now.
And we're going back to friends. I've been in contact with the two other American ladies in our complex, and they're being so so helpful. They are going to host us for meals the first week, and even bring up meals two times a week for the next few weeks. One is giving us a Christmas gift of their ayi to come and help with dishes/laundry for an hour a day the first week. Another is letting me order groceries to be delivered to her house that she'll put in our fridge (and turn our heat on that day!) so we have food for breakfast right away. While the transition back with two young ones is going to be crazy no two ways about it, they are making it easier. And it just helps so much to know we have good friends - them and others - that we are returning to.
Hadassah thoroughly loves her aunts and uncles, asking for various ones since they've gone, and mentioning things they've done with her. I grieve for her the time she won't have with them this next year. But I know that God provides, and gives above and beyond, and that we are so blessed with the close friends we do have during the year. How the Chinese have everyone be called "aunt" and "uncle" somehow helps feel like we have family there. But still... as much as I'll miss my family, I almost miss them more for how much love I've seen my girls enjoy from them.
Even crazier is thinking of Ellie not seeing any of them in person again until she's one. She won't remember being with them before then. And she'll have changed so much by the next time, from a sleepy newborn to a walking toddler! But, we have many pictures. Pictures that show how much she's loved. Hadassah enjoyed looking at pictures of her as a baby with grandparents, so I know she will pick up on the love displayed there. But still, there is much we miss by living overseas.
But, there's a lot that we gain. God is so good to give us these opportunities, and we pray that we glorify Him in them. I'm not sure what the next year will hold, but I know that He is with us, and holding us.
I am not looking forward to the plane flight or the first week back with jet lag. I don't feel I have the energy reserves I did coming here, as interrupted nights with a newborn and staying up late to make sure you have everything packed means not a ton of sleep. So prayers are appreciated!
Also, pray we get Ellie's passport and visa. It was overnighted to us yesterday, but this evening said it was returned to the local distribution center for "incorrect address." We're pretty certain we had the right address on it, but when you live at the end of a dirt road, this sometimes happens. Ryan is going to try to pick it up first thing tomorrow, so pray he is able to. We're supposed to drive to Atlanta at noon tomorrow, and fly out early Sunday morning. This adds a bit of drama... but thankfully we know that God is in control.