In one sense, it feels like I have very little to write, as we are only just back in Lae, and are still getting into the swing of things, but in another sense, as I look back at the last few months, we have so very much to be thankful for.
We can be thankful for a holiday long enough that it felt like it was starting to drag on, because it meant that we come back here rested, and refreshed. We can be thankful for the extra time with the people that we love in Australia, even though it felt harder to leave them this time around.
We can be thankful for the discomfort of being surrounded by other peoples’ stuff, as it meant we had a roof over our heads, through the generosity of others. We can be thankful for living out of suitcases, because we had everything we needed. We can be thankful for having to learn where the forks were kept in different houses.
More obviously, we can be thankful that we did travel to Australia, because it meant that Cheree was well taken care of when she fell ill. We can be thankful for an entirely sleepless night, because we finally got to meet our little one. And in some sense, we can be thankful for the worries and concerns (and even for the grey hairs), because it makes it so much sweeter that Makenna is so healthy, so content, and so strong.
We can be thankful for long layovers, as it meant we could take a more relaxed pace, and could meet old friends and new along the way. We can be thankful for early mornings to make flights, as it meant the kids could spend at least part of the day not sitting in a metal tube. We can be thankful that even in the middle of delays and uncertainty (more on that in a second), we made every flight, and arrived with no more to report than the bags we carried – in our hands and under our eyes.
We are thankful that it kinda feels like we never left, as the kids have slotted right back into life here. And we are thankful that we have support here, who have made it so easy to come “home”.
But you’re still wondering about the uncertainty I mentioned.
In Brisbane, before we were to leave the country, we were told that Makenna might not be allowed to fly, as her tourist visa (which we got at the gate in Port Moresby) required he to have a return ticket. A long wait (during which time we lost, found, and recovered Cheree’s purse), and a telephone call to PNG immigrations gave the Qantas official the peace of mind to allow us to board the plane. In this too, we could be thankful that we had planned on having breakfast at the airport, as the extra time we had allowed, meant we made in to the gate with minutes to spare.
And now we are in the process of trying to get Makenna’s visa straightened out. While it is true that previous (and current) missionaries have been able to have their children’s visas changed over while they are in the country, we are being told that the rules have been changed, and that Makenna will need to be outside of the country at the time of application. So, we’re working our way through that, and trying to figure out the best way forward.
In the meantime, if we can convince our children to come inside, schooling is progressing as normal, with only the odd tantrum or rebellion (and then there’s the children!). We seem to be getting better at understanding when our children need an extra measure of grace, or an extra serve of patience, but I’d be lying if I gave the impression that we had a 100% hit rate on the application.
Makenna is the single most popular person where she goes. This was especially evident when we were welcomed back at Living Waters Church, and Pastor Issidore said,
“Welcome back to Dave…” – a handful of people clap – “…and family…” – one or two more join in clapping – “and baby Makenna.” – and the church erupts into a cacophany of clapping.
And my work never ends. With one project nearing completion, there is pressure to get the planning finalised for the next major project, as well as to get on top of a million other things. This can make it difficult to set a clear boundary on what is working time, and what is family time, but hopefully, I’ll get there one day. Meanwhile, I can be thankful for the staff I left here, who took care of all they had to.
So much to be thankful for!