Saturday, October 25, 2014

Home Again

People say funny things. 
I wish I’d written down some of the interesting comments that random strangers made during our visit to Australia when they found out that we lived in Thailand.  
A classic last week was a shop assistant who exclaimed, “Wow!  That’s like you’ve been on holidays for almost 5 years!”
Hmmm. No. 
No, it's not. 
But I let that one go!!
It is a privilege to love and know people in more than one place… I don’t quite know how to put the past month or so into words. Seriously. I’m speechless.

God is so faithful.

He has once again shown me His amazing love and care though the tiniest of details, and through the incredible generosity of those who keep opening their hands to offer all that they are, and have, to be used by Him.

It all started before we left.

My visa had taken a long time to process and after 12 months of “extensions”, which all cost the same amount of money as the visa itself, I was starting to stress out as to whether it would even get processed at all. 

Eventually around the time we booked our tickets back to Australia, I was told that the visa appointment would be the coming Friday.  But by the time Thursday afternoon came, I was phoned and told that the letter needed for my visa had not arrived from Bangkok and I would (hopefully) be able to go to the immigration office on Monday instead. 
Then it suddenly occurred to me that after all these visa delays, the date of our upcoming trip to Australia was actually going to seriously interfere with the process of trying to get my visa finalised.  You see once you have your visa appointment, the immigration officer stamps your passport for 1 month and then after 1 month, you go back and get the other 11 months added on.  The issue was that in 1 month I would not be in Thailand to get my second stamp and the there was no way that the whole visa would be completed… this was a big problem.
I literally looked to up God and thought, I don’t even see how this can be worked out… to me it seems impossible. 

On the Friday afternoon before the appointment, with still no answer to the problem, I bumped into the pastor of our church. We started chatting and the whole “visa problem” came up in our conversation.  It was then that my ears pricked up, “Oh I’ve just been at a meeting at immigration today” he said. “They’ve just changed the system today and as of Monday, they are introducing a new process called ‘one-stop’.  It’s where they stamp your visa for the full 12 months straight away and you don’t have to go back for that extra stamp anymore.”
What? Had my letter from Bangkok not been delayed and I’d gone to immigration that day, my visa would not have worked out but now just one day before I am to go, they’ve changed the whole process so that when I go it will all work out fine!!!!
God you are AMAZING!! Seriously!! 

This year we’d also hoped to find our own separate accommodation for the majority of our time back.  Whilst we have enjoyed staying with both sets of parents every other year and we have so many fond memories as well as much appreciation for the numerous times they have minded our children when we’ve had meetings and catch-ups at night, we knew that a time would come when our family would simply need more down-time to reenergize (especially for the introverts amongst us).

I had researched a lot of houses online searching through the hundreds of listings of beach units, apartments, family suites, granny flats etc. but everything was just too expensive. I remember saying to God, “If we’re going to do this, I’m going to need to you to find us a place miraculously.”

Well, I had written a blog post mentioning that we were coming back (but not saying anything about accommodation) when, within minutes, a message popped up from a friend offering their house to house-sit while they were away for the school holidays.  I couldn’t believe it! Funnily enough, God obviously knew that our little Eliana (extrovert) and the only one not convinced that we should have our own space, needed the deal sweetened by being able to pet-sit their 2 rabbits and 2 cats while they were gone.  We had one excited girl!

The next answer to prayer came when our friend Aaron asked us if there was anything else he could help us with (he was already doing so much).  Hesitantly we emailed back asking if he knew of any accommodation available for 2 weeks. 
His email {the very next morning} with a place lined up to stay blew me away! And it wasn't just any old place. It was more than we expected or imagined!  

In the week or so leading up to our departure, friends took Eli’s pet rabbits to look after, other friends drove us to the airport, collected mail and washing off the line and upheld us in prayer. 

It’s such a blessing to be a part of God’s family.

Sonia and Colin, once again, so generously let us borrow one of their cars for the entire time we were back.  This was so helpful to us and we really were so appreciative to be able to use it.
During the first few days in Australia, we stayed at my parent’s house.  With the sweet familiarity of being back with them to begin our time here, we were blessed by their warmth and individual love for each one of us.  They amazingly understand all our different needs and some how seem to find the sensitivity to love on us all in only the way they can.

Maria, a lady who lives across from my parent’s home, came around in the few days we were there bringing bunches of bananas, soup, eggs, raisin bread, chocolates and a couple of other bags of fruit and vegetables.  This, along with the many other bits and pieces my mum sent us away with (including the loan of her rice cooker) all made the transition to our “own” place very easy and we set up “camp” thanks to God using others to give so generously.

 Sharing about ZOE at schools.

In our first full week here, we very quickly adjusted to the beautiful Australian landscape, gazing out the back window in awe.  The children loved petting the cats and taking care of the rabbits not to mention jumping on the huge trampoline and having so many exciting toys to play with. 

Our next ‘home’, adjacent to the Cook’s house, became our safe haven.  Here we truly relaxed.  I actually felt teary a number of times as I stared out at the paddocks and watched our children running with sheep, feeding horses, climbing trees and playing soccer.  No amount of searching the Internet could have possibly found a place so perfect.  We enjoyed getting to know the Cooks more through the unplanned conversations in the yard, at the clothesline or over the fence.  Our children were blessed with a new and special friend in Cooper and we will be forever thankful for the kindness and bigheartedness this family showed us.

There are too many individual stories about people’s generosity over the weeks that we were in Australia, but each gesture was so special to us and will not be forgotten.  We enjoyed fish ‘n chips, freezing walks along the beach, toasting marshmallows, celebrating birthdays, fantastic Indian food, a chocolatey feast, barbecue dinners, long chats and much more…. indeed we have some awesome friends and family!!

Dave’s parents also deserve a mention. They once again went above and beyond what we feel we deserved.  We really appreciate their kindness and practical helpfulness and look forward to spending a bit more ‘relaxing’ time together when they visit us in January.

I must say, that whilst it is nice to be home once again, our trip back to Australia was definitely one of my most favorite visits back so far.

Please keep me accountable, I am determined to create space to be more diligent in keeping in touch this year.  Despite having wonderful friends who just let us pick up where we left off, I really feel a strong conviction to be more disciplined in praying for and being connected to all of the beautiful friends we have throughout the upcoming 12 months (as well as updating our blog more frequently!)

Anyway, you know who you are- so thank you from the very bottom of our hearts!



Anonymous said...

Blessings to your adorable family! God is using you in a might way! I loved reading about your trips. I pray that God will continue to guide you in all things! Thanks for being willing to share God's Kingdom with others! God Bless You, Shelly

Chris Henderson said...

Sorry I seem to have been MIA this past year, Andrea... no excuses, just 'life' with all its ups and downs. So glad your time here was special. Maybe our paths will cross next time. Love to you all...and yes...keep up the blog postings! xx

Cross Family said...

Thanks Chris. Yes it's been a funny old year it seems for a lot of people. Bring on the new season I say!! Blessings, Andie x

Cross Family said...

Thanks Shelly!! Blessings, Andie :)