For the last month or so I feel like we have all just been going through the motions in many respects.
SSSOOOO much has been going on. Sorting through all our stuff, giving things away, selling other things, packing what's left, organising shipping, saying goodbyes, visiting special places for the last time, making sure we get a break, keeping the girls sane during a huge transition, keeping in touch with contacts to ensure accommodation on arrival, travelling for several days to reach our destination, contacting schools and real estate agents to ensure a smooth transition at the other end ... the list goes on.
In the midst of it all, I was unwell and not strong enough to do half of what I had anticipated on any given day too which was very frustrating. But with time ticking there was not really a 'pause' option and so on occasion, it really was a case of going through the motions, to ensure that we could make the move we have just done from Dodoma, Tanzania to Queensland, Australia.
Sometimes, it was a case of just getting through the day, shower, morning school run, food, packing, food, afternoon school run, packing, food, bed. Automatic pilot kicked in and the essentials were done. Familiarity in the mundane daily routines was almost comforting and the limit of what any of us could deal with.
Some days it was easier to just go through the motions and not have to think about the implications at the end, the task seemed too enormous, so to focus on the job in hand with blinkers on was much, much easier.
At other times, knowing that we would be saying goodbye to such a special time in our lives and to people that we wouldn't see again this side of heaven was also too huge to contemplate. Taking the practical things one step at a time in order to achieve all that had to be done and leaving the other 'messy' bits to cope with later down the line seemed the most sensible thing to do.
Fast forward a few weeks and the packing/sorting/painful goodbyes of Dodoma (above) are over and here we are in Australia. We knew we would need the energy and refreshing of a few days at the beach beforehand and although tired and jet-lagged, the journey here went like clockwork, the girls loved it all and every piece of luggage arrived with no problems.
Knowing that the familiarity of routine would be comforting, in spite of us all still being incredibly tired having arrived on Friday, Monday morning we started to visit schools in an attempt to get us settled as soon as possible. The staff at one school couldn't believe that we were launching ourselves in so quickly! In some ways though, it's still part of that automatic pilot we had learned so well at the end of our time in Tanzania, of going through the motions, not because we wanted to but because we had to for our long term sanity.
While I won't go into the details, later on that same day we ended up spending 8 hours in 2 different hospitals and leaving my husband behind, hooked up to machines, when it got so late the girls needed to be in bed. In order to keep even the faintest semblance of normal, I had to kick up that automatic pilot mode into hyperdrive and get into a rhythm at the barely functioning level to keep us ticking over.
While Mark was home by the next morning which was a huge relief even though he was still very sick, I had now become mother and nursemaid, in a culture that was different to us (especially after living in Tanzania for 2 years!), in a town we aren't familiar with, in a cramped temporary home, driving around in an old temperamental car I'm not used to, without a network of family and friends, still jet-lagged, keeping family and supporters updated ... and trying to keep things feeling normal for the girls!
A few days on, and now Mark is a lot brighter, things are more familiar and we've had a good couple of nights sleep ... I can finally take off my blinkers and breathe once again! It was like I was just holding my breath and ploughing through. We may not be in our own house amongst our own things yet but life has kicked into a gentler, more relaxed, temporary normal.
It's not how we'd planned things to go and after all the goodbye's etc in Tanzania. It's definitely not something that I would have said I would have been ready to deal with ... but it has happened and we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now I can take myself off 'automatic pilot' and reset to 'manual' ... and instead of spending my time just going through the motions, I can start to live every minute once again.
Sometimes our big adventure as a family is exactly that ... a big adventure. Sometimes, it's a roller-coaster I would gladly get off and trade for something really mundane. Just because we're missionaries and according to some "we've signed up for this kind of thing", doesn't make it any easier at all! I'm grateful for all the experiences that we've been having on our journey so far but right at this moment I honestly can't wait for us to be settled for a little while, so everything that has happened in the last few months can properly catch up with us!