We have arrived!
At SFO, just prior to checking in with our 19 bags!
We have arrived and after a week and a day, are feeling fairly settled here in Colchester. I’ll briefly rundown the past week as it’s been like a blur and with jet lag and all we’ve done.
The flight was un-noteworthy, except that at check-in we were charged 2.5 times what we were expecting to pay for our 4 extra bags. We spoke to the manager at the British Airways counter, a Hispanic woman, and things just seemed to get worse with her. I don’t know if she had it in for us because we work for a Christian organization or what it was, but it was clear that she was going to be antagonistic from the start. At one point, she told us that she thought we should be paying more so that the first class passengers wouldn’t have to pay anything since they had paid so much for their flight tickets! Obviously, we were a little shaken by it all but we did stay calm and let her know that we didn’t much care for what she was saying, especially since it directly conflicted with the BA website. We took down her information and intend to contact BA to get to the bottom of why we were charged more than was stated on the website…we may add a bit of commentary about our experience at the counter as well. J
Upon arrival though, everything went very smoothly. We were able to hire a porter with a cart to help us through customs and to our vehicle. Mike Woods (the guy I’ll be working with here at EMIUK) was there to meet us and we easily fit all 19 bags and carry-ons in the van we’d rented ahead of time. Also there to greet us and help with transporting us the two-hour drive to Colchester were Mike and Helen, the lovely couple whose house we’ve rented here.
The rest of the day was a blur, but we loved the house right off and Mike and Helen gave us a detailed tour of the certain inner-workings that we’ll need to know about (many more than you would think!). Mariette (Mike’s wife) brought us over some delicious spaghetti, and after an hour or so, around 4pm, everyone had left us to rest and recover. But instead, we got right to work, and by 2am all 19 bins were emptied and put away! I have to give credit to Alisha, who is certainly the most productive and driven person I’ve ever met when it comes to getting organized. She really is amazing at organization! I was her labor boy, hauling the 50-lb bags and bins here and there, and then putting away all the empty bins and cleaning up all the messes left in the wake of our bags and bins.
Our house here in Colchester - we love it! The blue mini-mini-van in the driveway is ours too.
The next few days we spent a lot of time at the second-hand furniture store a few blocks away (said “a few roads away” here :) ) that’s run by a local hospice charity. They had very nice things there for very cheap prices, so over the course of a few days we found the majority of our furniture there – the boys’ beds, table and chairs, couch and chair, nightstands, curtains, chest of drawers, and even our clothes washer and dryer.In the middle of all that, Mike gave me a bit of a driving lesson around town. It’s funny how similar the rules of the road are to Uganda, except that no one follows the rules in Uganda and everyone follows the rules very closely here! But driving back on the left side of the road (and the right side of the car) came right back to me after having done so in Uganda for nearly 3 years.
But with a few hours driving around town under my belt, on Friday we decided to go as a family down to just East of London, about an hour away, to visit the Ikea store there. In all, we ended up spending 8 hours in the store and pretty much completed our furniture buying there. The boys were troopers – at one point they were so exhausted and hungry that they were each camped out on a bed or rug trying to rest! Having skipped lunch, we ate dinner at a McDonald's on the drive home...at 11:30pm! Needless to say, this won't look very good on our parents of the year entry forms.
Mike and Mariette had us all over to their house out in the country for a welcome dinner/going away dinner for their summer intern. They made a big bonfire out in their 'garden' (yard), which is 5 acres of beautiful grass with large trees.
So, as I write this now, a week and a day after arriving, our entire house is setup – excepting the internet and landline phone. We feel so blessed to be in the house we’re in and to afford the simple but very nice furniture we purchased. And especially, the house we’re in is ‘absolutely fantastic' (more UK jargon). It is in a very nice part of Colchester, so getting to live in this nice, quiet neighborhood with such an amazing home that is now fully setup feels like nothing short of a divine gift - especially after having traveled around the US homeless for the past 6 weeks.Just two, significant struggles remain for us. First, our internet isn’t scheduled to be installed until next Weds. We’ve once again realized that living without the internet is almost completely debilitating. We have borrowed a small USB stick from one of the UK Board members, so that’s at least given us something to use, though we have to stand at the top of our stairway hall and hold the computer on the window ledge in order to get the USB signal! We can't wait for the cable company to come install our household wireless router!
At my computer 'desk'...the window ledge at the top of the stairs!The second struggle remains the boys’ schooling options. We’ve now applied for school for them, and the nearest schools to us (primary for Jonah and Graysen and secondary for Brodie) are actually two of the best schools in town. Unfortunately, they are both ‘over-subscribed’ (i.e. full) since placement was done back in June. The applications were actually due back in January, so we’ve actually very late. As of this writing, the applications are submitted and we have to wait to hear back. Since we’re in the ‘catchment area’ for each of the schools, we would have an excellent chance of getting in to our first-choice schools next year. But since we’re late, barring some unforeseen turn of events (i.e. a miracle), our boys will likely be placed at three different schools scattered over the town. If that happens, we may elect to homeschool one or more.
So, you can see what our main prayer request is. A lot is riding on this, especially for Alisha, since she would be free to work some if the boys were in school. If not, she will need to organize the homeschooling materials very quickly and get moving on that whole process. School starts Sept. 4th, and we were told that we may not hear of their placement until after then.
So, we would appreciate prayer for those items, particularly the schooling situation. We know what we would like to see happen, but recognize that God may have a different plan so we want to just pray that His will for the boy’s lives be done in the situation.
Otherwise, things are going very well here thus far. We really feel comfortable, even though everything is so different. It’s amazing how different it is, really. With Uganda, we expected everything to be different. I think we were kind of expecting that here as well, but it’s still fascinating to continually run into things in another developed nation that just operate completely different. It shows how diverse of a planet God really created. Yet, at the core, we as Christians believe that in all people there is a common need for a relationship with our creator, which can be easily forgotten or masked by the more noticeable differences we see. It does make you realize, at least in a small way, how complex and big God really is.