It took Milton and his family 32 days, by ship, to get to Mozambique, decades ago. 32 days.
Just three days before flying out of the country, I had my last Apple one-to-one session (I will miss these greatly—they have helped me learn so much about my computer without getting sucked into and overwhelmed by Google searches). Milton, my personal trainer for the day, had lived overseas as a child and said that he and his parents made the 32 day journey when he was 1 or 2. That helped put things into perspective in the final hours before we embarked on our more-or-less 32 hour journey.
I know there’s much (MUCH) to write about regarding our first couple weeks in Thailand, but before too much time gets away, I wanted to capture how exciting and special it was to actually make.the.move!
Starting with the fact that we were actually PACKED the night before the move. When does THAT ever happen? (In our world, not often.) So we woke up knowing that whatever didn’t get done on the miscellaneous list of stuff left to do, we could board the plane and leave the country. That took the pressure off.
Our Pastor Byron came and loaded all of our luggage into his van while our favorite Seniors came to help the kids and I get off to the airport. The Gervais were there to help shuffle luggage to the check-in counter so that by the time the kids and I arrived, it was all there in one neat pile waiting to be checked. Amazing.
From there it was all excitement and adrenaline. We checked our bags without problem, I cried a little (like, this is actually happening), and then people started trickling into the airport to see us off.
I’m a sucker for airport greetings. (I always dreamed to be that couple who ran to each other from a distance and embraced and cried and kissed. Ha, but now we almost always travel together, so that’s not working out.) So Mandy organized a big ole’ airport send-off. As I look at all the pictures (thanks Grace), it’s friends from so many different seasons of our 7.5 years in NC. But by and large it’s also Christ Community folks—a final reminder of what an amazing and embracing church God led us to these past 3 years.
My strongest memory is turning around as we walked toward security and seeing everyone wave—just seeing all of those precious faces. It’s burned into my mind. We got through security and as we were re-organizing our bags (a 5 minute ordeal), we had our final (several) waves and kisses blown to the last of the group who saw us off til we could not see each other anymore. Sigh. Beautiful.
Then it was GO time. And it was FUN. Our spirits were high, the kids were excited, and we were READY. We flew out of RDU at 7:02pm on 6/4 and arrived in Chiang Mai around 12am EST 29 hours later. Some of the most evident examples of traveling mercies:
- While waiting to board at the gate, Delta employees offered to check our carry-ons. (We had 4 maxed out carry-ons along with our 4 (maxed out) “purses”, plus 2 strollers and 2 car seats. So, for free, they sent our biggest 2 carry-on suitcases back down to checked baggage, and we didn’t have to see them again until we arrived in Chiang Mai.
- Same said Delta workers moved people around on the flight so that we had the whole of row 15: 6 seats for 4 passengers. It helped a ton!
- Sweet stewardess on this flight told me that no, LAX did not have a post office inside the airport, but that she’d be happy to put my stack of envelopes in the mail for me when she got off-shift. After flying across all of America with her (and her giving us a free sandwich meal), I trusted that she would. (And she did.)
- Compassionate security officer in zany LAX airport helped keep me calm as we feared (and were told) we might not make our connection. She just looked in my eyes and it was all better. (And she didn’t make me go back through security, as another officer insisted I should, because I had brought water through.)
- A young family we met in the Guangzhou, China airport, also taking the flight to Chiang Mai, took us under their wing and talked (in Chinese) to the airport attendants so that we were first to load. (In Asia, you never know when you arrive at your boarding gate whether the plane is there or whether you have to get onto a bus to shuttle you to the plane—a rallying effort with the mad amount of stuff we had). Thanks to Chris, we were first on the bus, and he helped lift loaded-down stroller and everything.
We travelled smoothly (mostly). I was in a sleeping fog for several hours on the long (15 hr) flight, and Brenden, dear soul, took care of STILL-excited kids until I’d “come back” with short-lived bursts of energy.
My sister-in-law sent us a prayer via email the day we left.
In it, she said, “…may you experience, savor, and rejoice over this leg of your journey.”
Indeed we did.
And we arrived in Chiang Mai to be greeted by the whole of Partners’ expat staff, who lei’d us with Jasmine flowers, packed up our luggage into trucks in a jiffy, and took us to our cozy waiting home.
So there it is. This account, an Ebenezer stone. (1 Samuel 7:12: Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer—which means “the stone of help”—for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”)
Thanks for making the trip a communal affair.
Love you all (and next post: Thailand!),