We started out Monday morning at 4a (EST), showering and packing up yesterday’s dirty clothes into the one carry-on we brought into the hotel last night. Thank you, Lord, that the kids slept well, even if I woke at 2:30a and couldn’t get back to sleep.
4:30a (EST) produced four sleepy, but happy little girls. Last night’s clean, wet hair still held their braids tight form the night before. Their last night’s pajamas were today’s new clothes. Brushed teeth, shoes and we were walking out the door. We met Aunt Sarah in the hallway and Grandma and Grandpa in the hotel lobby. Such warmth. They made this early morning so joyous. Love them so.
Curbside at a few minutes until 5am (EST), we met two more warm faces. Goga and Gopa. Love them so. Extra hands to unload two vans of carseats, baggage, kids, and the kitchen sink.😉 It felt like days at the ticket counter checking in all the bags, but freedom hit with each one passing on the conveyer belt. One less to drag around…. For now.😉 While we smiled at each Delta received bag, the kids laughed and played in a nearby open space, soaking in their lasts of Gopa, Grandpa, and Aunt Sarah for a good while. Ugh. Their lasts. That still hurts.
Smiles, a beautiful prayer, a few tears and much love found us waiting in the security line. Broken conveyer belt after we loaded all our luggage through resulted in me and the children catching bags from the next line over’s conveyer belt while Matt waited on repairs to send the rest of the bags through. The girls played and sang from the floor by the mound of luggage as we awaited the search through one bag. Each item rubbed with the magic wand. Minutes passing by as we inched toward our departure time. Lord, please help us not to miss that plane. Guess we’ll do breakfast in NY.
“Let’s book it, little people!” Stroller mounded with luggage, the oldest two rocking the airport shuffle, a toddler riding my carry-on backpack, and a free dancing four year old frolicked through an otherwise stressful haul to our gate. Gate check-in lady was wonderful, putting us at ease that though we were the last ones on the plane there was no rush. “Feel free to get settled,” her smile warmed our hearts. Wanna come too? 😉 Thank you, Lord, as we taxied onto the runway. A quick hop to NY.
Two hours passed quickly, but found time for a bagel, some smoothie and a happy pack of rambunctious kids playing in the airport window. I love how they can find a game anywhere. You’re welcome, NY, for Eden and Hannah’s rendition of the Frozen ballroom scene. You’re welcome.😉 A video from Jenna and Angela that brought light to their eyes. “I love you, Angela. I love you, Jenna. Bye-bye” the baby leaned in to share as a confidant to the phone. “Bye, we love you!”Hannah said simultaneously. They weren’t staged. Love just pops out like that.
On the plane first (yay for having little kids), carry-on’s stowed and seatbelts applied we sighed. The seats felt luxurious for the first 5 minutes.😉 The first few hours were filled with chit-chat and coloring. Crying was abated thanks to a bag of stickers that we milked for 45 minutes of toddler joy. Thank you, Lord, for stickers. A strange lunch, but enough to fill our bellies some. A movie and then an attempt at bedtime.😉 Sleeping preferences are definitely horizontal, but the kids really fought hard at doing their best. Hannah with the two-seat stretch, Rachael and Abi rocking the vertical and Eden fish-flopped all night long in my arms. But at least she slept. They fought hard for sleep. And they conquered a good 5-6 hour stretch. Thank you, Lord, for some sleep for these little ones.
6a (Africa time), our 1a (EST) bodies won the fight for three of us, resulting in a series of airsickness episodes. Thank you, Lord, for flexible kids. Thank you, Lord, for your calm. I knew it would find us. Motion sickness for the win. Rachael was the first victim. The toughest fighter resulting in less-stained clothing. Then it was me, the gene-source. Sorry, kids. 7a (Africa time), 2a (EST) hit Hannah’s stomach post-landing resulting in a mess. She fought through it valiantly. We rolled up pant legs. And pretended like she didn’t stink. Hugs and time fixed tears. South African soil healed stomachs.
Our dear colleagues who were on our same flight proved through with shining colors, playing hide and go seek with the girls, scratching backs, tickling and listening to hours of stories coming out all in 7 minutes of excited delivery. Baggage kinks worked out with companionship. Goodbye hugs at our flight gate. The little two waving and smiling through the window to our new friends and Maputo team leaders, the Jacksons. We love them so already. Instant family.
Despite nearly leaving the toddler (Who was supposed to be holding her hand?), a crowded bus took us to the tinker-toy airplane. Bags stowed once again. No toys out this time. Surprisingly smooth take-off, 5a (EST – 11a Africa time), and Dramamine produced instant naps for four of us. The two oldest rested well and then enjoyed some coloring books. Africa out the window. A beautiful, vast savannah. Mystery. Wonder and then clouds.
Altitude hit our ears upon the descent. Discomfort found warm arms and calming reassurance. Gum for all! Applesauce for all! Prayers and patience for all! Only one hop on the landing and AT. LAST. We erupted with joy in our hearts. NO MORE PLANES!!!! NO MORE TRAVEL!!!! FINALLY! HERE!!!!
Patience waits for most to evacuate before strapping on our bags. No rush. Customs is next. We know we’ll be the last ones. We’re just here. Just soaking it in. The beautiful red dirt that we know will stain our clothes all too soon shone in the sunlight. Familiar pictures became people in the airport windows. “At last!” radiated on our faces and bounced in our steps. Instant summer breeze. Goodbye airplane light jackets! One worker after another. No idea what they said. Smiles cover language barriers. Pictures overcome words. Prayers lifted up. Customs was coming.
The girls danced, laughed, sang and lay on the floor at our feet. Immigration papers finally complete. We knew we’d be the last ones. No rush. The longer we stayed the better chance our colleague could make it in to help translate/negotiate at customs. And then the man of the hour came in the baggage claim door. Instant peace. Taylor grabbed our bags off the carousel as passports were stamped. Bags. And bags. And bags. Moving with four kids looks crazy. Just crazy.
Duck-duck goose while they talked to customs. Airport workers smiled. Kids bring delight. Curly hair for the win!😉 Oblivion to their comments. Happy to live in the unknown for the time being.😉
This worker, not that worker bag transfers to the car. Ignorance claims at outreached hands. No extra money today. No extra help today. Seven kids crammed in the truck AC while inventorying bags. Such giggles. Such delight at the window lever to roll down the windows. Hahaha. Kids are hilarious. Foreign world delights found in 1980’s norms.😉
A short ride to the house. Faces peering out the windows drinking in Mozambique one dirt road and shanty at a time. Haitian design patterns played out in Mozambique flare. Some poverty looks are universal. The first breathing of home. Thank you, Lord. Just thank you.
Dirt, dirt and more dirt delights in the backyard. Instant hospitality. Spaghetti devouring. Warm bath water produced happy and clean bedtime candidates. One toddler tantrum endured and then 7:30p (1:30p EST), when kid sleep hit hard. I made it for an hour of convo. Sweet friends. Sweet, sweet friends. Suddenly my eyes rolled closed. Couldn’t fight it any longer. 8:30p (2:30p EST), Matt and I hit the pillow. 11p (5p EST) a knock comes at the door. The bread store next door began kneading tomorrow’s bread. New noises. Two sets of nervous eyes. Defining new norms, two handfuls of grapes (it was 5p in their confused world!), and a cup of juice sent Hannah and Abi, and Eden who had joined the confusion, reassuringly back to their beds. Thank you, Lord, for their confidence.
7a (1a EST) light peaked under the blacked-out window. Could it be? Had they all slept?! Four little ladies and one husband continued to enjoy their sleep. A few small attempts at leaving messages of love and story-sharing with our beloved Americans.😉 Smiles from our colleagues. Praise for super flexible sleeping children. An 8:30a (2:20a EST) kid wake-up. Africa schedule begins. Pancake smiles. Wonderful little friends. Play, imagination, and a little Portuguese curiosity filled the backyard. Live chickens to see produced today’s lunch. Education flourished. Played out in a nearby dirt-pile fire. That poor paper got the neck-break and was roasted on the pile of mango tree leaves. A broken plate used as a knife to prepare the unripe mangoes into the bucket-pot soup. There would be a wonderful spread offered for lunch.😉
Wonderfully roasted chicken and soft rice smothered in beans. Mmmmmm. Lunch was good. Full bellies and happy people. The household littles all down for a nap. No signs of any jetlag. It’s as if 6 hours in the future never happened. As if Africa were just in our backyard and yesterday we decided to move next door. Newness still stings some times. Tears happened at the bar of soap. “It’s not my normal,” realizations hit a small six year old. Hugs. Understanding. Newness acknowledged. Letters opened for Mozambique TCK’s (Third Culture Kid). Sweet words of love and new friendships opened. Such family we find in the Body of Christ. Such beautiful family. Thanks, Nalls.
(And for those of you curious people, no we did not bring that table with us. ;P)
Suitcase retrieval hopes bring Matt and Taylor to the airport. Phones unlocked, new phones and meticals (Moz money) collected. Provision errands. Pantry bulking options. All preparations for tomorrow’s drive coming at 6a (midnight EST). The trek to our language city awaits! Six hours until we see our new house. And the settling into the newness – our newness begins to unfold.
THIS is our adventure to Africa!
– Thankful, grateful and beyond blessed.