If you walked down to the basement of my grandmother’s house right now and peeked in, you would think seven severely unorganized individuals were attempting to open a consignment store there. We aren’t. We’re moving to England in five days.
Emotionally, we are ready to step foot on British soil. Physically, we aren’t – yet. Packing is hard. Packing for seven people who are moving overseas with a tight budget is harder. Thank goodness God can give us grace in chaos.
I remember back at the beginning of summer, imagining what the week before we leave would be like. Now, I’m living that moment. The excitement is coursing through all of us. Our England dream has become a reality. At 2:50 pm on October 1st, we take off from our home and venture across the ocean.
But along with leaving comes preparation – stressful, consuming preparation. So many variables have to be considered: the wet, windy weather, constantly growing children, limited storage space, school curriculum, carry-ons and luggage, and the list can go on and on.
We fully engaged into the mindset of packing about four weeks ago. My mom began to go through every article of clothing each person owned, seeing what fit and what didn’t. Next, she and I wrote out a rough packing list – attempting to limit it down as much as we could. Then, she went to each kid, comparing the clothes they owned to the list, pulling out what would go and what wouldn’t. Drawers were emptied and piles made of the clothes that were definitely going to England.
Finally, The Shopping List was made. This seemingly endless list consisted of the most random stuff such as, “pink shirt to go with polka-dotted pajama pants”, “Two pairs of pants (sorry, trousers) other than jeans”, or “Winter church shoes to go under black dress pants”. Thus began an eight-day long shopping trip. My mom practically moved into the Greenville clothing stores. Plato’s Closet, Miracle Hill Consignment store, Kohls, Academy Sports, T.J Maxx, Justice, the mall, and Chick-fil-A employees got to know us personally. One day, my mom, Kimry, and me went to Plato’s Closet (a secondhand clothing store) in the morning, came back for a quick lunch, then went straight back and stayed until dinnertime. That was a long day.
Although it was tiring, the Lord provided numerous helpful employees, coupons, and great clothing at good prices. The piles grew with each bag we brought home, and the feeling of satisfaction that came with checking things off The List was a good ending to each day.
Meanwhile, my dad did the other half of the work from home – researching and ordering everything that couldn’t be bought at local stores. The Fed-Ex truck was a frequent visitor to the house. Backpacks, duffel bags, laptops, power adapters, power converters, passports, visas, and other various travel gear are naming a few. In addition, he was setting up phone accounts, computers, bank accounts, travel insurance, plane tickets, and lots of techie stuff that I don’t understand.
(Although there are plenty of stores in England, our money isn’t worth as much over there. [Something that costs $10.00 here will cost us $16.00 there because of the exchange rate]. Plus, we will not have a car there for our immediate use whenever we want.)
As the time of our departure crept closer and closer, friends and family began to schedule dinners and get-togethers with us. Love notes are pressed into our palms. Dear friends of ours stole us kids for 24 hours so my parents could escape the craziness for a day.
This past Sunday, our church hosted a potluck in our honor and Rachael’s. A sweet lady from our church, Kathryn Ferguson (and her techie husband), created a “farewell” video for us and presented it on the screens for all to see. The love and support we have received these past few weeks from our church, friends, and family has been very encouraging. Love has been pressing in on all sides.
Now, here we are, the week before we leave. The organized chaos downstairs is already going into suitcases. The goodbyes have begun. These days are filled with excitement, yet touched with a dose of bitter-sweetness. Leaving behind those that love us is difficult, the farewells are never easy. Yet, we know that this is the plan that God has for us; who knows what will come next?