It's not all gardens, scones, and clotted cream here.
The past ten days have been an absolute roller coaster of experiences and emotions. Highlights, lowlights, everything in between -- we've got it all!
Mixed in with the sightseeing, the sowing of new friendships, the thrill of novelty, are moments of frustration at how nothing (NOTHING!) seems easy, homesickness for friends and family, and the desire to crawl into a quiet hole where there are no decisions to be made.
Some stuff is just hard, friends. And the only way out is forward and through until at least some of it gets easier and you see how far you've come. Right?
A few examples.
We planned to rent a furnished home, since we're only here for a year. I imagined something charming and cozy, possibly in a village, definitely in walking distance to a ... bakery, or something. Instead, the Lord provided a brand new townhome in a less scenic area. Walking distance to our friends' house. But? Totally unfurnished. Which means that a growing chunk of the money we intended to use for traveling around is now being gobbled up by furnishing and housewares that we will have to get rid of a year from now.
Oh, and we don't have a car here. We're in the city, and we're learning to get around by bike and bus (more on that later). Which is great, theoretically, unless you need to pick up a table you bought on Gumtree (the British version of Craiglist). Or stock your kitchen. Or buy anything that doesn't fit into a bike basket. Which, when you're setting up a home, is a lot.
So I've been completely relying on the kindness and chauffeuring skills of Sarah, who also put us and our three children up in her house for ten days with no complaints.
There's also my tendency to feel panicky when plunged into new groups of people. ("Group" = more than two or three.) Most folks don't know this about me, because I can be a decent faker, so there you go. Confessions. And guess what? It's 99.9% new groups of new people here!
I'm coping, more or less, by doing two things:
1. When I feel overwhelmed (daily): I either plan something fun and adventuresome, in the non-ironic sense, or just tell myself to do ONE thing on my list. Just do the next thing. Even if it's finding the zipper bag in my suitcase and trimming my fingernails. I mean it.
2. I start giving thanks. This is tough. My friend Apryl gave me this little gratitude journal before I left, and although I haven't written in it yet, its mere presence reminds me of what this is all about. I know that our God worked very specifically and sovereignly to uproot us and bring us here. I've prayed several times, "Make me a blessing here, however YOU think that should look." How can that happen if I'm whining about having no hot water in our house? (True story.)
I'm thankful for the house we have, even though I don't know yet all the reasons why.
I'm thankful that we get to pick furniture we like, more or less.
I'm thankful that riding around to pick up secondhand treasures has helped me learn the city roads a bit more and introduced me to some friendly British folks.
I'm thankful for the extra time to get to know Sarah.
I'm thankful that each surrender of my independence -- and how I fight it! -- opens the door to greater interdependence with my precious brothers and sisters in Christ, even those I barely know yet.
I'm thankful for the growing pains my comfort zone is experiencing.
I'm thankful for all of you who have encouraged me and prayed for us and given me perspective on the gift this journey is. You make me unwilling to waste it.
One more thing. Yesterday in a low moment, I advised the Lord that He might have chosen someone a bit tougher for this expat gig. Today I came across this quote:
"God never asks us to do anything we can do. [Yes, you read that right.] He asks us to live a life which we can never live and to do a work which we can never do.
Yet, by His grace, we are living that life and doing that work." -- Watchman Nee, "Sit, Walk, Stand."
Good night, dear ones.