Well, a lot has happened since our last blog post which shared our news of this big adventure God is calling us to. Its been a whirlwind the past few months, to say the least, but God has been faithful.
We put our house on the market in June, right before heading out to Italy to visit my sister and her family who moved there just over a year ago (Air Force).
We stayed for 12 days, and it was one of the most incredible trips of our life! It was also our kids' first time on a plane (besides when they were babies), a 12 hour overnight flight with a layover in Istanbul. They did pretty incredible and again, God used it as a small step in our preparation for moving overseas. The long plane ride, the jet lag, the new country, language and food, sleeping in strange places, being surrounded by different cultures...all of it was a great learning experience for the kids.
After that trip, we came back for a couple weeks and left again to enjoy our first ever vacation with Kent's parents and siblings. We shared a house near the beach with his 3 brothers, sister, sister's husband and their baby, and his parents. God really ordained these two family trips this summer, as we planned them before we knew about Ethiopia and now it will be the last time for a long while that we will all get quality time together.
So that brought us to August, and the start of the school year. KJ started kindergarten, Brooklyn, PK-3
and kent had 2 months left at Briarcrest to help transition in the new student ministry director.
On August 14th, we headed to Charlotte, North Carolina where we interviewed with SIM and officially became a member of their mission organization. This allowed us to begin fund raising and asking for people to join our prayer and financial support teams! We sent out our first newsletter asking for prayer that our house would sell and THE NEXT DAY we got an offer and a contract.
We closed on the house September 26th, sold most of our stuff, moved into the in-laws, and left for our second SIM training October 1st.
So here are are now, staying at the SIM guest house where we finished our week of training yesterday and have another week of training starting next Sunday.SIM has been incredible and we could talk forever about the people on staff here, all we have learned, and how thankful we are to be a part of this SIM family. Last week's training was with 13 other adults and 13 other kids. We had many many sessions dealing with a broad range of topics, like our identity in Christ, spiritual warfare, how to deal with transition, working on a multicultural team, the theology of risk and suffering, our health care plan, and women living in a foreign culture. It was emotional at times, scary, overwhelming, encouraging, affirming, and everything in between.
We ended the week listening to stories from veteran missionaries who have lived all over the world. Although they each endured much hardship, they all said they'd trade places with us again in a heart beat.
So for the joy set before us, we press on!
We are staying here in Charlotte for the week in between so we can visit some of Kent's family here and not have to drive 20 hours in between training weeks.
I just want to share with you some of the funny ways God has used our week here to prepare us and stretch us in unexpected ways.
-New Schedule: We woke up at 4:15am last Sunday to drive the 10 hours to Charlotte to be here by 4pm that afternoon. We thought surely our kids would fall back asleep in the dark as we drove for the first few hours (at least Savannah!) but we were wrong. They were up the whole drive and have been thrown off their normal schedules ever since.
-New Food: We have a cook preparing our meals here (which is a nice break for me!) but my picky eaters haven't had at least one thing they like to eat at each meal like they do at home, so they have had to be stretched or go hungry each day. Savy is especially picky so it's been tough trying to make sure she eats something besides crackers each day.
-Lack of sleep:Savannah doesn't seem to love her new bedroom situation (pack and play set up in our bathroom) and has strangely been waking in the middle of the night for HOURS almost every single night we have been here. She never does this and is always one of our best sleepers, so Kent and I are just exhausted. I have also had to be away from her all day from 8:15-5pm. That has been tough for both of us, and will be similar to when Kent and I are in language school all day right when we get to Ethiopia and people who I don't know will be in charge of my kids.
-Stomach issues: I have felt sick to my stomach mysteriously this whole week. Not throwing up or anything but very uncomfortable for no apparent reason. I know this is just a foretaste of what we will probably each experience within the first couple months of us being in Addis.
-Unwelcome visitors: Another funny situation was in the middle of the night, as I was trying to get Savy back to sleep, my feet were itching and I tried to figure out why. I noticed the floor was 'moving.' I turned my phone flashlight on to discover ants were everywhere on our bedroom floor. Not just ants but fire ants. (Thanks to my kids snacking in our room the night before). As they started biting my feet, Kent woke up to my panicking and he began spraying windex on them, as we had no ant killer or anything else available. 3 days later and my stinging feet are still reminding me of yet another preparation for whatever critters we may encounter in our new apartment in Addis (please pray against rats!).
-Traffic: Lastly, I'll mention how yesterday after our last session, we were excited to venture off the SIM compound and drive 45 minutes away to meet up with a dear friend I hadn't seen in ages. 15 minutes into our drive, there was a horrible accident about 1/2 mile in front of us. We watched over 8 ambulances pull onto the scene and waited for over 2 hours for them to deal with the injured. Then a clean up crew arrived and we waited another 30 minutes with our whiney crying kiddos before having to cancel with my friend and try and find a place to pee and grab some food before heading home. Of course we have heard the traffic in Addis Ababa is pretty insane and there is a ton of traffic, accidents, waiting, canceling of plans and having to surrender to the situation.
-God's blessings: After we finally got off the highway, we all tumbled into the nearest restaurant (Pizza Hut). I was holding 2 emotional, worn out girls on my lap who were fighting over much needed mama time, and Kent was wrangling an overtired baby who was trying to get into everything as we waited for our pizza to cook. As we left Pizza Hut, the waitress said that a couple sitting near us felt like God wanted them to pay our bill! Such a sweet sweet reminder that God is with us, he sees us, and he cares.
All that to say, we appreciate you guys journeying with us as we share our life with you! We are so humbled by how many of you have committed to pray for our family or be on our financial support team. We have felt your prayers! We will send out prayer newsletters and updates every few weeks (click subscribe on the link) but I hope to blog along the way with more personal stories and pictures for you to keep up with us as well.