This time around we are soo much better at moving overseas then the last time we left our passport country. We are attributing this to the “practice makes perfect” ideology (although we are far from reaching perfect) as well as the benefit of knowing what can be obtained in Kenya and what we desire to bring with us.
The packing process for us really began about two months ago. We have learned that preparing for an overseas move is infinitely easier when we start early and is now down to it’s final days.
We don’t send over any shipping containers so our household fits into our luggage allowance for the airlines (which is when having a big family is super helpful). Half the weight (at least) goes to home-school material for four different grade levels for three years. The process of purchasing material and labeling it by child and year occurred this summer. Another 1/4 of the weight goes to tools for J–n’s work including a microscope, power tools, and a whole bunch of other odds and ends I am unsure of.
As we pack each item we label what is going in each box (quantity, category and item) so
when if our luggage is lost we can hand over a “what is missing” report without taxing our jet lagged brains. We also weigh each bag to ensure we have maxed out our weight limit without going over and unpacking at the airport.
In addition we have a two page checklist from our organization which helps us remember to do items such as updating our will, forwarding our address, cancelling cell phone service, notifying our credit cards, preparing for tax preparation etc…
In addition to packing up our “overseas” items we are also packing into storage any household items we will keep until our next HA…and then the fun process of giving away what we are not using, our pantry, kids winter clothes and other misc. things we have gathered over the past nine months. It sure has a way of keeping us busy!
The hardest part of packing is doing it in such a way that is causes minimal stress to our children and that we don’t allow the tyranny of to-do lists to get in the way of our first pursuit of know God and seeking Him.
So we rang in the new year packing, and laughing with family and friends.
We are attempting above all to do this with grace and margin that allows us not only to depart but to depart emotionally and physically healthy. This has been a big process for us of learning but over the international moves (4!) we have gotten better.
J– and I took off for one evening in Seattle a few days ago. Leaving all the packing, kids (!) and to-do lists behind. It was a wonderful 24 hours of focusing on our marriage and each other and made the stress of returning to our long list of activities much easier to complete.
This time around we are asking everyone to say goodbye on the Sunday before our departure. These goodbyes are soo important to us but also very emotionally draining for us. We love and have been loved so deeply the goodbyes are the part of moving that never gets simpler. We are then taking the Monday before we leave to have a family day. We will go to the movies, out to eat, and play games together. Mourning all that we leave behind even as we remember what will not change as we go (each other) and using this time to grieve and anticipate as a unit. It can be easy to push to-do-lists and goodbyes to the very end but we have found it to be infinitely more valuable to slow life down in the last week to allow our hearts to grieve and move on so we don’t experience emotional jet-lag on top of physical jet-lag.
Moving is hard, moving a family of six and half is hard, the goodbyes are bigger then the packing lists and to-do-lists. Saying no to dinners and connections and being ok with things left undone is so hard. But creating (forcing!) margin into our lives to help our emotional jet-lag pays off in huge benefits of health as we seek to once again sink our roots down into a new place. Goodbyes never get easier but what makes it all worthwhile is knowing that the same God that gave us such grace in this space, journeys with us and awaits for us in our new home. He is the one that connects hearts together, and it is the pursuit of knowing Him that makes each goodbye more bearable.
Onward and Upward!
The Cross seven