Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Back in Chiang Mai

So an update is definitely overdue. We made it back to Chiang Mai two weeks ago. It was honestly one of the smoothest international journeys with kids we have made. We had great seats, well-behaved kids who slept a lot and didn't fuss, and no delays. Plus all of our bags made it! And we had a lot of bags.....

Leaving was hard. Our kids had gotten very attached to their grandparents on this trip. We know that it is a great sacrifice for them and for our parents to be separated. Thankfully, Josh's parents will be here in Thailand in less than 3 months! Our baby is scheduled to be born May 9th and they are hoping to be here for the birth and a few weeks afterwards to help us adjust.

I'm sure my parents will come not long after that. Nothing gets our parents on a plane like the birth of a new grandbaby! Knowing they would be coming so soon makes the goodbye a little easier.

Right before we said goodbye at the O'hare Airport. 

Watching airplanes out the window. That's our plane in the background. We love Korean Air.

Look at all that legroom. Thank you Korean Air for letting families with small children sit in the bulkhead! 

We didn't buy a seat for Hailey but there were extra seats in our row so she didn't have to sit on our lap at all. 

My feet could barely touch the wall. 

It's definitely good to be home. Our house was clean and ready for us thanks to our wonderful house helper. We had subletters while we were gone and we were relieved to see they didn't totally destroy any of our stuff- although the oven door is broken and our toaster and a few other small things are missing. Annoying but not a big deal....we got our new (used) car the day after arriving. One of our friends runs a business helping expats to buy and sell vehicles and he had sold our truck while we were on furlough. It wasn't going to have space for a third kid in a car seat so we have upgraded to a 7-seater MPV.
Here's a picture of the car parked in our carport. It's no minivan (what I would really love to have) but it is the most practical and affordable 7-seater available in Thailand so a lot of familes have them. Minivan equivalents can cost around $30,000 used so we will settle for an MPV. 

What the seat configuration looks like. Not a lot of cargo space and it's going to be tricky to get into the back row with 3 car seats installed, but we'll make it work. 

I love getting pictures of the kids napping while jet-lagged. :-) 

Our first weekend in Chiang Mai was Valentine's Day. Our kids were in no shape to handle having a babysitter so we went out for a family breakfast to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Less than a week after getting back, Colby started preschool at an English-speaking international school in Chiang Mai. He's only going part-time for now. 

Here is a picture of a common sight in our neighborhood. Our neighbor is giving food (alms) to a local monk in exchange for a sort of blessing. Local monks walk the street receiving alms from people every morning. Alms giving is one of the most common practices in Thai Buddhism for making merit. 

The monk smiling at Josh and the kids on their bikes. 

Just a little girl and her daddy.

Colby on his new strider bike that he got for Christmas. We put it in our checked luggage to bring to Thailand. 

Hailey on the local playground. 

Josh has been busy at the office with Media stuff and getting oriented to another new role he will be taking on for visa purposes. Honestly his new role with GHNI hasn't really gotten rolling yet, but next month he will be traveling to Indonesia for meetings about both media stuff and GHNI. A lot of people asked how much Josh would be traveling with his new role. Well it's going to look different every month, but for the month of March he will be gone 10 out of 31 days. And then in April and May he might not travel at all....partially because we are having our baby on May 9th and have requested to not travel close to the birth on either end.

Josh is working on a newsletter which will have a lot more details about the work he has been doing. Hopefully we will get that out soon.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Everybody's Gone

Just a few short days ago, our furlough apartment was filled with people we love as we celebrated Hailey's second birthday.  She, along with everyone who made it, had a great time.  Those who came left in waves...Lisa's parents and our friends Jason and LeAnne went home that evening.  A winter storm trapped my father, brother and sister-in-law for an extra day, which was a blessing for us.  That same winter storm prevented my sister from coming, so I suppose it was a mixed blessing.  My mom stayed behind to help us pack and clean...we really needed that!  Last night, we moved to Lisa's parents' house for a few nights.  I came back this morning to help my mom wrap things up, and get some work done in a quiet place.  My mom left at noon, and now I am the last one here.  

We are heading back to Thailand next week after several months of partner development.  We've been working towards this goal for what feels like a long time, and now that we have reached it I have mixed feelings.  I am incredibly excited to begin serving with GHNI full-time, but also very sad to say goodbye again to the people that we love here in the United States.  Our empty apartment serves as a stark reminder of the loss that I will feel getting on the plane next week.  Sometimes I used to wonder if it would get easier over time, but I think the opposite is true.  I'm glad it has not gotten easier.

I've heard many others serving overseas share about their difficult experiences on furlough or home assignment.  Our time at home has had it's share of challenges...finding a place to live, road trips with young kids, large piles of snow to shovel (and play in!), toddler cabin fever...but each time we have seen Him provide for every need we have.  I really enjoyed this furlough, but it is over now and it is time to head back to our other home in Thailand.  We've had a calling placed on our life...one that we are confident in and one that we embrace.  I rest in the knowledge that our goodbye's are only temporary.

Thank you to everyone who made our time here unforgettable.