Last week was a week filled with goodbyes. And let me tell you, goodbyes are NOT easy! I was reminded many times of the quote from one of my childhood favorites, Winnie the Pooh. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Our friends in Indianapolis threw us a wonderful going away party (shout out to Annie Nelson – thank you!), followed by our last Sunday at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. We were prayed over during the service, and it is so encouraging to know that we have such solid spiritual support from a great group of people. Our last community group was Sunday night as well, and saying goodbye to that group, which has become like a second family for us in Indianapolis, was tough. The next few days were spent steadily packing up our lives and finally saying goodbye to our apartment and the city of Indianapolis, which we have loved living in these past two years. Finally, on our last night in the United States, we were able to have a big party in Michigan with many of our family members. Parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and my sister all made the trip to the farm to see us off. It was a wonderful time of playing lawn games, swimming, eating, praying, crying, and laughing. We are so thankful to have a family that supports us in our endeavors and acts as a powerful prayer team on our behalf.
While preparing for this trip, we were asked to read a few books about living cross-culturally, and one book in particular focused on the transition process. It recommended building a RAFT before leaving your home country. RAFT stands for reconciliation, affirmation, farewells, and thinking ahead to your destination. Thanks to our family and friends, we were definitely able to build our rafts well. If you are someone who attended church or a party, sent us notes of encouragement, or prayed for us as we prepared for this journey, THANK YOU so much. We are so grateful for all of you. We not only felt totally reconciled and affirmed, but we also were allowed to cry with you through farewells, and think ahead in hope for what the future will bring with you. Goodbyes and transitions are never easy, but they are tough because we are leaving something that has been so good to us, and that is something to be so thankful for.
While last week was filled with goodbyes, this week promises to be filled with hellos! (These are much more fun!) The Lord protected us on our flights and made sure that we, and all of our luggage, arrived safely to La Paz. He has also answered one of our most fervent prayers before leaving in that we have not experienced any severe signs of altitude sickness. We met a few people from Highlands already, two teachers at the airport and Leo and Marcos, who helped us get our bags and ourselves to our new apartment. We are living in a neighborhood of La Paz called Calacoto in the Zona Sur region. La Paz is shaped like a bowl in between jagged red and tan mountains. We are basically at the bottom of the bowl. The drive to our apartment was beautiful! The airport is located in El Alto, at the top of the bowl, so we had a great view of the city and the nearby mountains as we drove to our new home! We can see two snow-capped mountains from the city. The largest is called Mount Illimani, and one that is more flat-topped is called Mururata. We are excited to get out there and hike around on a free weekend! Our apartment is a nice two bedroom, and it has all the furnishings we could need, including kitchen appliances. We are on a pretty high floor, so we really enjoy our view of the surrounding area! (See photo above.) The climate here is similar to a nice fall day in the midwest – the mornings and nights are very cold (30-40°F) and the afternoons are very warm (60-70°F). One big difference between here and home is the dryness of the air. No humidity here! Yesterday, we mostly slept, but today we ventured out to walk around and made it to a supermarket to stock up on a few basic supplies. Tomorrow promises more hellos as we begin our New Teacher Orientation for Highlands and get to meet some of the other staff members.
Thank you for your prayers for us as we traveled to La Paz. We truly appreciate it. Prayer is more powerful than any of us realize, I think. That being said, we have a few new prayer requests!
- Right now we are stumbling through our half-remembered high school level Spanish, but it is clear from our walk about today that we will need to be diligent in studying and practicing! Please pray that we can find a tutor and that we can pick up the language quickly so that we can better interact and serve the people we live among.
- Our continued health as we adjust to a new place with new foods.
- As Sarah begins school, she will be teaching 4 different classes, which means there will be a lot of prep work. Please pray that she has renewed energy to get that work done and be prepared for her first day of the school year (August 8).
- The goodbyes were tough on us, but they were tough on our families too! Please pray that our parents in particular will feel confidence and peace with our move and be as comforted by Skype calls as they would have been by visits.