with now just a couple days left until our departure i’m going to throw out some more and probably superfluous stories, thoughts, and such. i do this in the hopes that somehow, by spilling my mental working to the internets, the fact that we are moving to rwanda will at some point in the process start to sink in. in hasn’t yet. not even close.
in piles and bags and boxes lining the walls we collect our scattered attempts to organize the process of packing. i moved to rome with a backpack and a suitcase filled with shirts and books. but that was for three months. this is for much longer and, again, that hasn’t quite sunk in. my usual mindset when packing is, in the words of mr jack london: ‘and so it went, the inexorable elimination of the superfluous.’ i catch myself setting things aside to leave and then thinking, well, i would probably use that in the next couple years. so now it’s a ‘maybe’ and the assessment process begins again. there is a pair of pants i don’t really like and didn’t pack, but i think i’ll want them before the end. i’ll probably end up shoving them in some luggage corner eventually. i was looking over a pile of stuff steph had labeled as to be taken with and wondered at much of it, but my mind clicked then into the remembrance that this was not three months, but two years. this is not a ‘trip,’ as many have been calling it. we can take some suitcase space to take the things that will fill our eventual home.
we started this absurd, taxing, long, and in many ways freeing packing process wednesday in the late afternoon. we had planned to begin our long list of things to take care of and deal with on last sunday when we were to get back up to the suburbs from a visit south in champaign-urbana. but while hanging out saturday night with old small group friends (and their babies), we got word that the church service where we were to be prayed over and sent off was cancelled. it seemed that this approaching storm we kept hearing about was a pretty big deal. and big deal it was. a good blizzardly attack of snow and a brutal wind blasted everything everywhere. well, maybe it wasn’t that bad. i’ll leave the sensationalism to the weather channel. but the storm and the subsequent days of sub-zero temperatures did cancel our travel plans. a sunday departure was out, so we sat inside and watched movies and read and enjoyed being warm. and i, of course, took my daily idiot walk into the cold. but monday was out, too; the roads were thoroughly a mess. so we bought a train ticket for tuesday morning and passed off the car to our friends don and kristen, as was the eventual plan anyway. then our train was cancelled. so we hung out on tuesday as well. wednesday morn we finally took our train north into chicago, then another to the station near to steph’s folk’s place. and then fell into a flurry of organization.
in a somewhat strange development, we find ourselves buying a fair amount of new things in preparation for the move. clothes for me were needed as my old ratty jeans and star wars t-shirts aren’t going to pass rwanda’s respectability standards. which is certainly fair. we were also gifted with a brand new macbook, which, after using old and hand-me-down computers for years, was a great blessing. of course the Christmas festivities brought plenty of new things, allowing for the purchase of even more new things. i have purchased a new backpack to replace the one i have had, used, adventured with, and generally lived out of for the last eight years. i emptied it of all its glorious contents (and dirt and pine needles and loose change and granola bar crumbs) and made the solemn exchange to a new young whippersnapper backpack. that old pack has been with me through many grand journeys and i have used it well. perhaps too well. falling apart at the seams, growing holes and tears in the corners and straps, i had to realize that the time had come to give the dear canvas bag some much needed rest.
i also had my hair cut, which is quite a feat considering that i haven’t cut my darn mop since before we took our trip to rwanda. and that it’s been considerably long since i was in high school. cutting it now feels like saying goodbye to an old friend. an old friend who is only partially manageable and tries to climb into your mouth when you’re eating. i actually went to a fancy salon place where back rubs and shampoos were just part of the deal. i felt way out of my element. i had moments of mild panic as the inches were severed from me irrevocably, and with the look on my face i think i scared the stylist lady. she breathed a sigh of relief when i said i was surprised at how much i liked it. so all the long hair is gone, but both steph and i chopped off lots o’ hair and were able to give to locks of love this season. and, as i recently experienced, i can climb through bushes and not get caught on everything. there are certainly a lot of new things coming with the changing of these chapters.
as we approach the big date, and in an effort to make this endeavor somehow actually real to me, i am trying to remember the sorts of things that went through my mind a few years ago when i was moving to illinois for the then foreseeable future. and i am getting nowhere; either i don’t remember those things or my brain won’t let me draw comparisons to what we’re going through now. it is all full of nervous, near-barf-inducing excitement like some weird, scary Christmas.
on thursday we were invited to share a bit about our fund raising experience at international teams for the orientation group. it was an interesting process to think and discuss just how much we have changed over the last year. we shared the general story, some of our struggles, and tried to keep it uplifting by focusing on the critical points, that the process is about sharing what God is doing in the world and building community. on the whole it’s nothing to be afraid of. but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was always easy. the group, including some of iteams staff, prayed for us at the end, which was a great little moment, we believe making up for the send-off we missed at windsor road on sunday.
in a handful of hours, as of this writing, my sister and parents arrive here in illinois to hang out for a couple days and see us off. i am very glad of the chance to see them again before we go.
on wednesday morning my family flies back west and we fly east. a stop in new york to switch planes to europe. in such a time of transition they tell you to take a couple days in a place not home and not your destination. so as our flights to kigali connect through brussels, and seeing as how we had a wonderful, if unplanned, time there during our world travel bonanza of 2012, we decided it would be a nice place to rest; to clam down after the emotional turmoil of leaving everything we know and to gear up for the emotional turmoil of moving to a place we barely understand.
with so many business things to take care of, it’s been hard to really be amazed at the whole situation in which we find ourselves. our Father has been abundantly good to us and has led us to this point incredibly smoothly, all things considered. we really can’t be angry about it. and we are abundantly excited for what lies ahead.
i’m calling this my last post from the united states. we’ll catch you on the other side of the world.
note: when perusing old facebook messages to find the above london quote, i stumbled upon this little gem from a longer message dated september 4, 2009, less than three months after our first meeting: ‘i know we’ve said it before many times, but, stephanie, lets do good things for Jesus together.’