Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Okinawa or Bust!

Warm rain is pouring sideways outside of our little hotel room. Instrumental music is playing softly in the background and the three kids are fast asleep napping on their beds in the living room area. I probably should be napping as well since we all woke up bright and early at 3 am again. Jet lag is kicking our tail but God is definitely giving us grace to not kill each other, enjoy the sights, and get A LOT of business taken care of! I can’t believe we have been in Okinawa for 4 days already. Getting to this point has absolutely been an act of God. If you have been following me on FB, than you know our daily shenanigans that we were able to get into during the whole month of August. :) I won’t go into all the details again (even though I love me some details) but we were able to see our families and make incredible memories that I don’t want to forget. What a special gift that was for us to just be together as our little family for so many days. It didn’t matter what we got to do, just the fact that we got to do it together was enough. We have tried to make it a point to do what we call, “First Things First,” everyday together with the kids. In an effort to put God first in our day as a family, we have grown fond of this 5-10 mins of taking turns praying. Sometimes the kids want to pray as well and nearly every time Micah prayed he would say, “Tank you, God, that daddy doesn’t have to go to work.” lol! Precious. We are very thankful for Stephen’s awesome job and the mission that we get to have as a family! God knew exactly what we needed to get rejuvenated, though. Thank you to our families who went well out of your way to make us feel loved, missed, special, and allowed us to invade your homes and lives! What is more important than legacy…than family? Stephen and I read recently the importance of valuing children and family. Years from now, the many great great grandchildren later will not care if we made a bunch of money, if we were super nice people, or if we were successful in other ways. What will matter to them is that once a upon a time, Stephen met Julie, they had Tierzah, Micah, and Beniah, who got married, had kids, then those kids got married, had kids, and all we will be remembered for is being the old people who fell in love and were blessed with kids. :) Children are such a gift from God, no wonder the enemy tries to make us believe that they are an inconvenience, dream killers, life enders, and a nuisance. They epitomize Life, bright futures, hope, faith that is full, and expose the deep struggles of our hearts and motivations. Yes, they are exhausting to keep up with, to teach and train, and they do hold our whole hearts in their hands to crush. Family is such a beautiful gymnasium to learn how to build muscles in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control through God strengthening us. I have heard from so many people that Okinawa is such a great place for families. They really do cater to making children feel special and adored, place high honor on elderly people, and live simple lives. I’m looking forward to learning more! GETTING HERE… Oh man! So we flew from Dullas, VA, 6 hrs to Seattle, WA. The kids did great and we were exhausted but ready to just finally be in on our way to Japan. We went to the amazing USO in SeaTac Airport which was full of people who were also going to wait 6 more hours with us until check in began. The family room was packed full of sleeping families but a kind volunteer showed us a tiny room that we could unload ALL of our stuff and sleep on the floor for a couple hours. It was time to get in the hour long line with our 3 tired bunnies at about 3am. We were last in line and we were at the counter loading our luggage to be weighed when the one cashier noticed that Stephen’s Military ID expired 2 DAYS before! The nearby attendant wanted to just wave us through but the manager quickly said, “No valid ID, No flight!” and walked away. Ahhhh!!!! We were devastated. Already exhausted, we numbly walked back to our tiny room in the USO to pray together, make another plan, and try to sleep on the floor for a few more hours before the AMC office opened. Long story short, Stephen was able to take the train to a Coast Guard base, get a new ID, call for help to get commercial flights to Japan, we spent another many hours in the airport, got to explore the Seattle area that night, and 24hrs later we were flying to Okinawa, Japan. Whew!! What an adventure. That 16 hour flight is no joke with little ones! We were blessed to get our seats changed so that we could be near each other, though!! God gave us so much grace and loved on us through the kind people he put in our path. Weary and worn right out, adrenaline filled us as we crawled to the baggage claim in Naha airport and saw 6 Chaplains and some of their wives waiting at 9/10pm for us to arrive with smiles, welcome gifts, and 3 cars to transport all of us, our 5 suitcases, 3 car seats, and many carry ons. Seriously, what an incredible feeling to meet brothers and sisters in Christ on the other side of the world. It’s like having the biggest, weirdest, loving bunch of extended family ever. :) Thank you kind friends! TAKIN CARE OF BUSINESS… Josh and Amy are friends that we met when they came to our Chapel on Camp Pendleton one Sunday a couple of years ago. They soon got very involved and helped in many ways around the Chapel. We thought it was much more than a coincidence that they were located to Okinawa just a few months before us this year! Thank you both for showing us around the Island, giving us treats, helping us get to Koza Baptist Church our first Sunday here, get phones, for helping me get Tierzah’s school supplies, and introducing us to American Village. :) We are thankful for your generosity and kindness! Some big 1st week things that we need to get done upon arriving is: -Get our bodies on the same time zone! lol -Get Phones since American phones do not work here -Get Cars -Get Childcare for the all day “New Comers Brief” that is mandatory before we can be given a house, purchase a car, etc. -Go to the New Comers Brief on Wed :) -Register Tierzah for school -Get School supplies -Study for and take Drivers Test to drive on the other side of the road :) (prayers!) -View the 2 options of homes that we will be able to choose from hopefully asap -Take Tierzah to her first day of school. Tears!! (<-friends and family that are interest in this decision, I’ll write more soon! :) This has been a whirlwind for sure. It would not be nearly as possible or enjoyable if we did not have the wonderful people here giving up their time to help us, and YOU back home praying for and encouraging us! As Tierzah has been saying this week, “God bless them for helping us!”

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