Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jan. 2012 Departure & Re-entry.

As promised... here is the story of our departure from France and our re-entry into live in the States as we used to know it a year ago. Enjoy!

OK, so after a year in France, we packed up our apartment. We knew this day might come.

I had a mondo sized checklist for keeping things straight.

We got rid of almost everything (except 11 bags that we brought with us - 11 sounds like a lot except when it's a years worth of stuff or all you own). It was a whirlwind sort of experience trying to empty an apartment that had been passed on from student family to student family (at least 4 that we've been told of). Imagine trying to close out internet accounts in another language when you are not the name on the account - the original person had just passed it on from one resident to the next to make payment easier. Hmmph! It was easier to pay but harder to close the account. It's still open, btw. We're far across the pond & the internet service provider told us to just close our bank account instead. OK?? It worked. It's done. Check. (Did you know you have to save French check stubs for 10 years for tax purposes?)

Another thing on the to-do list... AT. THE. SAME. TIME....We also were ordering supplies online in France to set up house in Africa and get them shipped to the container (in the Mid-West of the USA) so they could be shipped to West Africa. *sigh*
I'd like to get a button to push that speaks to me in that computer generated voice: "That WASN'T easy!" You know, similar to the one that STAPLES puts out that calmly tells you "That was easy." I don't need my button to yell or even strain it's voice. It just needs to calmly state: "That wasn't easy." and then I can move on. So yes, we packed for Africa across the continents. It's done-ish. *wink* Check. And just so you know, if you plan to make a lot of purchases online from another country on Black Friday, the credit card sompanies will put a hold on your account!

Oh, and another thing we did all at the same time as these other busy checklist items were being tended to, was to start scheduling speaking engagements and lodging and vehicle borrowing for our future (now current) time in the States.

For a while my conversations with Brent would go something like this:

Have a place to stay for the first few weeks in TX?
Do you know where it is?
OK. Fine.
Have a place for the next month in FL?
Know where that one is?
How about the month of March?
No. Not set up yet. No idea what we're going to do in NY. 
Hmm. OK.

So none-the-less, our check list for departure from France was ticked off with these three main events getting checked off simultaneously:

1. Empty Apartment.
2. Pack for Africa.
3. Schedule for Stateside.

It really helped us learn to plan and organize things down to the tiniest detail. Not my forté, but I learned how to do it better than I ever had before.
Thank the Lord!

So then we had a great trip planned to get us back to the States: We'd leave our apt and stay with French friends for 2-3 days and then take a bus to Lyon, stay the night in a hotel, shuttle in the morning to the airport and just have one layover in London before arriving in Texas. Doesn't sound as stressful as our trip that brought us to France a year ago, does it?

Well, all went well except...
I started with some stomach bug while staying at our French friends' house. Not a gross kind, just a painful kind that won't let you sleep well. Not too bad. Then Ethan got it. He only puked once. Then we got to the hotel with no problem. I couldn't sleep. Since moving to France was rough on me, I've struggled with travel anxiety a bit. Only slept 2 hours before we got up at 4am to get to the airport. Flew to London fine. Started feeling weak in the airport. Got that really twirly feeling. Thought I'd pass out. Made sure to get my low-blood sugar back to normal by eating something. Still had to have Brent take me to the plane in a wheelchair. It was embarrassing. I'm an otherwise healthy woman who gets bouts of low-blood sugar, but this time I was worn down from a stomach bug and exhaustion. The flight was great. I was comfortably settled in and Brent had taken care of the kids, and bags and everything! Then he sat with the kids while I had my own seat by the bulk-head (leg room! for the tall sickie).

Can I just say here, Don't I have a great guy?!? Wow. Way to step it up, honey. Thank- you.

Claire threw up in the airplane bathroom. Then she slept the rest of the flight. Ethan & Brent watched movies and tried to sleep. (Brent got the stomach bug a few days after we got back to TX. Thought I'd have to preach for him that Sunday, but he was ok.)

Back to the plane. I normally get motion sick, but because of my stomach thing I was taking meds for my tummy and couldn't take dramamine. So the ride got bumpy at the end and I felt nauseous - didn't toss my cookies though - Score! Then because of the wind, our double-decker big plane slammed down. EEK! Everyone thought we had crashed. We were fine. Well. most of us. We were the last ones off the plane since I felt like I was going to pass out and vomit all at once. EMT people came to take care of me while the kids checked out the cockpit (since it's a bit scarey for the kids to see mommy in an oxygen mask). I was able to walk off the plane with help and then I got wheeled around the massive 100+ person line for customs (my family got to join me!). Thank you, Lord! Only to get stuck in the line for agriculture since we had to declare a French orange, of all things. Thankfully this line was only 5 people long since they scanned all our bags again. Then we had lovely PBT people waiting for us to pick us up. He didn't even ask why I was in a wheelchair. We told him, but it was nice not to be asked. Then we ate some dinner at the house here and went to bed by 7pm (2am France time- I think.) It really takes 24 hours for each time zone you've crossed to get adjusted and not have jet lag any more. I really think it's like working night shift, you can change your schedule but in the end you feel like years have been sucked off your life. Jet-lag stinks! But we survived that too. Our heavenly Father was really with us through it all.

Then the good part began. Getting to see friends we haven't seen in a year. Having to use a calendar to book times with people because so many wanted to see us, meet with us. Not to mention physicals and dental appointments too. Busy time! Note to self: Next time plan more time in the Texas area. Three weeks is not enough!

Oh, now for my favorite part of re-entry:
We got to go to church in ENGLISH for the first time in a year- yay!  We had the opportunity to share with churches about our time in France.

Here are some highlights we shared:

- Shared the "good news" with a friend from India. Told about our Father's power of healing and being led by dreams. My friend wants to get a copy of "The Good Book."
- Gave a Chinese copy of "The Good Book" to a follower so he could read in his own language. (He only had a few pages before).
- Shared with an Austrian atheist lady why "The Good Book" is alive & important to me.
- Talked to the Father about a French sister being plagued by nightmares for 2 years. She was delivered!
- Taught a French Sunday class of 7-11 year olds  about work on the field & fed them an African dish.

We were so blessed this past year & it was a blessing to share that with so many people in Texas. It's a little odd to be back to American ways and speaking in English. It feels good. It feels sad. We miss our friends and life in France. It wasn't a vacation. It was work and everyday life. It was good. We're so thankful for those who made it possible. Now just to raise funds for a vehicle so we can work in West Africa. In the mean time I'll be telling stories about what He's done & catching up on all the bowls of Cheerios with good milk & all the Mexican food we've missed.

Next stop: Florida for a month. Going to see family! Yay! Hang out with my dad who's fighting cancer (see first blog entries) and share at churches.  Not a bad re-entry. Weird and parts of it I would not like to repeat. All in all not bad.

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