23 April 2013

Packing Up

This post is one I’ve been avoiding for awhile. But since I started down the road when I posted N’s birthday, I thought I may as well go ahead and do this thing.

So here goes.

This is us packing up and liquidating our dear home of six and a half years.

:(

It was only several days after Christmas when we got word that we’d have to leave.  Christmas in Africa was lovely, as always. I always loved celebrating Christmas in our African home. LOVED IT. It was so simple. So quiet. So different from all the commercialization and rushing and materialism that Christmas is so often in the States. Christmas in Africa is a wonderfully simple thing.

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We had a special hot chocolate and cookie night.

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We got dressed up for Christmas Eve Church service and took photos.

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We had friends over for Christmas lunch.

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And we just enjoyed time together in our home Christmas afternoon. Did I mention how much I loved our home? Do you know how long it took me to make it beautiful and cozy? Looking at this picture above, I can hardly believe it. I can hardly believe I was there just four months ago. That my life was there. That my kids grew up there and may never see it again. And it will certainly never look like that again.

Oh my. This post…

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Basically, we were in a great swing of things. We were loving life, loving our home and loving the place God had brought us into as a family.

We went from that to this:

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In no time at all.

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Empty. Ugly.

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In the past, families often have passed their homes and belongings onto a new family just coming in. We purchased another family’s entire home of furnishings seven years before. And often times those new families take over the lease of the departing family also.

There is something that would be comforting about seeing your things and your home get passed to the next family coming with a like-mind and like-heart.  All the effort that had been put into building a lovely home could be enjoyed by someone else, you know?

However, the situation in the country at the time didn’t allow us this luxury. Many were leaving with us and no one was coming. We had to liquidate. It all had to go. Our apartment wasn’t getting ''passed down’ and so we had to empty it.

It was painful.

And dusty.

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Really REALLY dusty.

And humbling.

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This is a photo of some friends who came to help carry our big furniture out of house to be sold. Only I hadn’t had enough time to even empty the cabinets, let alone sort. So they unloaded everything out into my kitchen before they moved the furniture. What could I do? The furniture had to go. It was hard. It all happened so fast it was difficult for me to give up my normally ordered and organized ways of packing and watch these friends move all my things for me. It was chaos. We were so thankful for help but it was hard. I had no control. Our departure date was approaching so quickly and there was no slowing it down. There wasn’t time to think, let alone organize and think clearly.

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Gone, before I could do anything about it.

We had at least eight huge pieces of furniture that had to be taken out of our place. We were on the second floor (above the preschool) so it had to go over the balcony. It had all come UP over the balcony so that’s how it was getting back down.

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Here’s the team on our balcony,

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Here’s the team down below, waiting to catch.

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Mike and Khamis (a long-time friend that helped us with lots of projects around the compound… a harder worker you never will find) drug a dulaab across the balcony.

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They rigged it with ropes and leaned it over the edge.

(Funny story here. The first piece of furniture that was set to go over had been taken to the balcony. He rigged the ropes all around it, tossed the ends over the balcony and told the guys down below to pull.  Really? It’s true. And he thought that was a good idea. Mike had to talk him into a different idea of keeping the rope ends up high and lowering the furniture down slowly.  He was a dear dear man and a very hard worker, but he maybe wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, Godlovehim.)

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And no one ever got hurt. And these things are HEAVY.

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And repeat.

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And repeat.

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Meanwhile my house looks like this.

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And I looked like THIS. Lord have mercy. 34 weeks pregnant.

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Happy Christmas photo in cozy house to…

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Empty room.

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Happy kids playing in our living room to…

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Happy kids playing in our living room.

Okay… so the kids stayed happy! That was good. But the house looked so awful empty. I hated seeing it like that. Hated it. Still do.

The contrast was so much. So fast. And it was all so final.

Aaanyway, we were blessed to have space downstairs in the preschool to have  a sale. Almost all of our things were taken down and somewhat thrown into various piles. For a couple days lots of people came to sort through our things.

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My boy took this photo. I spent quite a few hours down there watching our things go out the door. I (obviously) wasn’t able to be on my feet too much and if I was gonna sit it may as well be there. It was a bit of closure. I didn’t mind seeing most of our things go.  After some selling, a lot of the things were just given. It was good to see our things blessing so many people. They had blessed us for many years.

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The kids did very well at selling and giving their things away. I couldn’t have been more impressed with them. The home and life they had been accustomed to was literally disappearing before their eyes by the hour and they were awesome.

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They are such a blessing to me. I can’t tell you how many times during the process of packing and leaving I thanked God with an overflowing heart (and overflowing eyes) that my kids got to come with me. That they get to go wherever I go (at least for now). What a comfort. Thank you Jesus.

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It didn’t feel like a natural time to be uprooting to me. Duh. This baby and me. We went through so much together. Strong girl I had there in my belly.

The whole process was nine days beginning to end.

One day I felt like we had it all. We had dreams and plans and joy and homemade hot chocolate. And then we suddenly only had some suitcases and some airline tickets. And we had each other. And we had Jesus.

We boarded a red-eye flight and that was it.

Just like that. Six and a half years. Over.

Do I sound dramatic and sensational? I guess so. I try to talk myself down from being dramatic and sensational, because I don’t want to make it something it was not. But when I really think about it and I realize it was dramatic. And surreal. And crazy fast (although some had even less time than we did, God bless them). God poured out His grace and strength to walk through those days. They were incredibly difficult and painful. Confusing and exhausting. But He brought us through and covered us in grace in the midst.

And that was that.

I still can hardly believe it sometimes.

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