Friday, March 10, 2017

A Time to Say Goodbye

The time has come. We leave China on March 24th. We're moving back to America. Back home? In many ways, When I talk with Hadassah about this, she says "I'll miss our home" even though she is beyond super excited to think of moving to the land of her grandparents. She sometimes tells me she has trouble going to sleep at night because she thinks she hears suitcases zipping, and if I tell her that something is very exciting, she'll ask "Are we going to America today?!?" And we've talked about how, after a little while, our home in America will start feeling like home. She repeats that to me randomly throughout these days of selling and packing and preparing to move. 

But, this is it. Almost 3 years have passed, the three years we planned on being here. And while staying longer was always an option, we've both felt it was time for us to move. Time to establish a more permanent place to raise our family. Time to be closer to their grandparents. And God, in His gracious, amazing goodness, has provided.

We're moving to Huntsville, AL. 3 hours drive from my parents, 4 hours from his. I even have a sister there in town! And what an amazing place it will be. Everything happened quite quickly, when it happened. Ryan faithfully revamped his resume time and time again and applied to job after job for two months. Despite recruiters calling almost daily from random locations across the US, we stuck to our focus, and turned down any options that weren't in Huntsville. If God decided Huntsville wasn't the place, we had a timeline for exploring other options. But, in His grace, He has given us this location!!

On Wednesday, February 22nd, we met with some friends for our weekly time of sharing and prayer. There was nothing to report on the job hunt. Almost every application had been answered with silence. But, as most nights went, we stayed up late to do some more resumes. Ryan's been burning the candle at both ends in his desire to provide in the next step (he's amazing!). We finally got to bed, only to jump out again as we heard the phone ring at 11 PM. That 14 hour time zone difference means all of our important calls come in the middle of the night... It was someone in Huntsville! A job that matched Ryan perfectly! Could they do a skype interview? "Sure, I'm usually up early. 4 AM my time (2 PM there) would work some day." And we went back to bed, only to have a little trouble sleeping from the excitement. Turns out they wasted no time. Again, it was jumping out of bed at 4 AM when we heard the skype call on the computer. Ryan needs an award for how fast he put on a suit and sat down for an interview with coffee in hand!

They were impressed and immediately scheduled an in person interview for a week later. So we booked flights for him (that happened to be only $700 round trip - amazing price for China to US!) and he left Monday. He interviewed Wednesday morning, and got the job offer on Friday. And oh what a happy dance we did over video call (since he still wasn't home!). 

 Ryan got back on Sunday morning, after 6 whole days away. He arrived home to a sick family, and I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the whole morning with our 45 minute-each-way church commute. I'd had a low grade fever for a few days, and Ellie was pretty congested. So Ryan prepared to go to church with just Hadassah. But Ellie wouldn't let him go. She clung to him after he put his shoes on, so I decided we'd all go, sit near the back, and leave early to avoid contagion. Ellie ran out the door after Ryan on his way to the elevator when I let her go. And she's had an extra special closeness to him since he's absence. She's always been more of a mommy's girl, but since Ryan was away, she's extra close to him. So sweet to see the love!

 We had what may be our last China date on Tuesday, thanks to friends babysitting. It may be the last, or one of the last times we ride the subway. With just 2 weeks 'til we leave, I'm realizing there are so many lasts...

After our date and the kids were in bed, we bought plane tickets and sent my parents info on the house that had stuck out to us in our searches for rentals online. We knew it might be better to look ourselves in person, but with Ryan having to start work 2 days after we get stateside and all of the craziness of jetlag, we just really wanted a place to land right away. This house kept sticking out, matching our requirements and even having extras like the paint colors in our bedroom and the kitchen being exactly what we'd painted our apartment here in China! The first time we'd told my parents we were considering this and a few others, they'd happened to be visiting my sister in Huntsville and had stopped by and looked at the outside. They gave positive reviews, so we said "this is it" and they immediately left (it was morning in America after all!) to try and get it before the 2-3 others that had house showings booked for that day. Have I mentioned how amazing my parents were? Making our dads our Power of Attorney while we've been overseas was also one of the best things we've done. With that document, they were able to get the house reserved for us, and we were able to complete it through an online application at our computer here in China. No problem that it was 2 AM... We were getting a house!

 I was tired the next day, but kept dancing around in a crazy excited way. Ellie laughed at me as she enjoyed her breakfast smoothie. ;) But seriously... It has closets! I told Ryan that living in an apartment in China - nice as this one has been! - has given me so much more appreciate for things. The kitchen is large. Granite countertops! The sink has a window overlooking the backyard. A backyard! With a fence! And a door from the dining room! A garage. 3 bedrooms. And wood floors! I am so excited and can't wait to move in. Even though we currently own almost no furniture in America. ;) But have I mentioned how amazing it will be live close to family? My sister in Huntsville has already found friends who are giving away a couch, a table, some shelves, and a recliner...  We'll be able to use again all of our wedding gifts (wonderful kitchen appliances and dishes!) that have sat in storage for  years. As we give away and sell things quite discounted here, I feel like God is blessing in return. And it has been an amazing journey to see Him provide.

And the location? 14 minutes from work. 12-14 minutes from two churches we're considering. 7 minutes from Walmart. 6 minutes from TWO thrift stores and a really awesome looking park. And a library. A library!! 15 minutes from ALDI and Hobby Lobby. Yes, I've been doing a lot of happy dances!

 So I've been bringing my camera more places recently. We've already captured so much of our life here, but I want to document every little thing. One day, our daughters will be able to look back and see where they spent their first 1-3 years, even if they don't remember much. They'll see the play place, with the cushioned stairs Ellie loves to climb...

 The ball pit Hadassah rolls around in...

 And the merry-go-around that makes Ellie shriek. :) I finally caved and bought the discount card to be able to go to this indoor play place once/week. It's a sanity saver through days of rain and winter cold!

 It's a place to play with friends...

 To climb and smile and get energy out when you live in an apartment on the 14th floor. ;)

 Then there's the day I'll want to look back and remember all of the shopping I did in Chinese... Thankful that at least the numbers are the same (though I'm constantly dividing everything by 6 still, to get the USD price!).

I'll want to remember the looks of "don't squeeze me to death!" though that will happen anywhere I know. ;) And yes, I know our cart looks super unhealthy. No vegetables. But all of those I still order online to be delivered to my door (they're safer/less pesticides, etc.). But the supermarket has better prices on bread and yogurt, and the occasional donut splurge. :)

 We had our last ballet "class" on Thursday. I've enjoyed teaching these girls (though with sickness and travel, classes have been sporadic!) but I have realized there's a reason I didn't teach 3 year olds before. ;) I enjoyed the experience, now know I can teach in my home, but may wait until my girls are a bit older before starting again. But still, it's just one more lesson learned in China. And oh how we will miss these sweet friends of Hadassah's...

Leaving friends will be the hardest. Two goodbye parties are scheduled for the 18th. And yet, there is so much to look forward to. Goodbyes are always hard. We've been closer to friends here than we may be for a while. Common goals and a foreign land does that to you. But there are a lot of "hellos" ahead. And I am excited about what God holds in the future!