The countdown is on… 2 more sleeps! We fly on Thursday – first to Frankfurt, on to Jo’burg and then to Swaziland. This time next week, we’ll have had four nights under Swazi skies…
It turns out life is pretty crazy when you’re moving a family to Africa in 3 days time. We thought moving out of the house was the hard bit (how is there still so much to pack and store when I thought I’d already chucked our stuff out!?) but there is a TON of admin still to do before we fly. Lots of jobs you literally would never think of until you do… and then it’s a headache getting them done as every phonecall you make seems to generate fifteen more. Remembering to cancel swimming lesson direct debits, taking kids of school roles, suddenly being reminded you need an international driving license, ringing every private GP/travel clinic in the north west to obtain a BCG (TB) vaccine for the baby because the health visitor never got round to arranging it. And if anyone needs any advice on medical working travel insurance, I can probably recite the terms of every policy on the market. Some bits of having an adventure are just plain tedious.
The bags are still to be packed… a rough trial run has been done, bags weighed and luggage pieces returned to shops and re-bought as necessary… Our best packing secret is that we have been so unbelievably blessed to have friends who currently live in Zambia with 3 kids and respond promptly to whatsapp messages. Many is the message I have sent asking if we really need to pack x, y and z or if it is locally available. Jude has been a constant source of wisdom on how many cloth nappies to pack for a handwashing routine (!!!), homeschool resources and bush hacks from homemade humous to using urine to rinse your eyes if you think you might have looked at a spitting Cobra. What a lady.
The slivers of time between organising and keeping the kids alive and well have been spent saying goodbyes. Last week we headed up to Scotland to collect the big kids who’d had a ball with the grandparents whilst we packed up the house in Manchester and handed keys over to our renters. We had some lovely times with family.
This morning was our last Sunday at Ivy – our church and family in Manchester. We’d planned a small gathering for our church friends to fill in the details of our trip and ask them to pray for us. My beautiful friend offered to sort out some ‘low key refreshments’. We arrived expecting to lay out chairs, pour milk, serve brews and stuff to find that the room had been decorated with bunting, chairs and tables laden with lace tablecloths, vintage china, cake stands, forks, and edible goodies… tea and coffee served and pitchers of pims and lemonade. This lady (who is still a bit mad at me for deserting her) had gone to town to give us a decent send off. What a friend. We had a lovely wee gathering with some of our favourite faces, and a great time with people praying and encouraging us as we go. The next thing to being able to take some of my favourite people with me is to have their treasured words and prayers hidden in my heart as we go…. or actually, in mp3 format on my phone… cause another friend was awesome and hit record.
Lots of people asking about finances – we are SOOO overwhelmed by how generous people have been to us. We have surpassed our £5000 fundraising target. We can’t thank you enough and literally couldn’t do this without you.
We can’t do it without your prayers either… thank you so much for those and please may they continue. We will be sending monthly letters to those of you who have asked for them.
We have been blown away by other kindnesses – friends having us to stay in their house, friends putting together surprise tea parties, holding babies whilst we packed boxes… One friend even spent the day doing errands with me – just sitting in the passenger seat of the car with the baby whilst I sped in and out of shops. You guys are absolute legends and we love how we have seen our community pull together to support and encourage us.
So the emotional roller coaster continues… And I think we’re all coping okay with it. If you define ‘okay’ as bouncing off the walls on a sugar high and having the occasional tantrum… That’s just me though. The kids are much more sorted. In seriousness, we were just chatting about how despite all the madness, and the sadness at saying goodbye, this is feeling very ‘right’ to us, and we’re so grateful for that.