Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Burkina Flashback- Getting to Africa

Remember that time I told you we were taking a trip to Africa and we were taking our 2 children under the age of 3 with us?  Yes, I know it was 6 months ago, but somehow I never wrote about it and tonight it's on my mind.  For those who don't want to read the nitty, gritty, cultural details of traveling to a 3rd world country with an 11 month old and an almost 3 year old, I'll quickly answer your burning questions...
1) Was it everything you expected?  Yes and no
2) Did your children travel well?  Did they adapt to a foreign country well?  Yes and no...overall, yes, but they're small children.  They had they're moments...don't we all?
3) Would you do it again?  A hundred times yes!

Want to read the beginning of the nitty, gritty? Continue reading below...
As a single individual, I always traveled very smoothly.  Yes, there was occasionally some lost luggage or a delayed flight, but no big deal.  When I married J, I knew there was a chance that traveling could become rocky...or at least rockier (you should hear the travel horror stories his mom tells!).  And sure enough, after visiting 11 different countries, the first time I EVER had to run through an airport was on my honeymoon.  But that's neither here nor there. 

It started as we were checking in all of our luggage at the Dulles Airport.  It seemed there was some sort of confusion about mine and Doodle's tickets.  Doodle was traveling as a "lap baby" since she was under a year old at the time and our travel agency had marked that we were to have bulkhead seating so we'd have a bassinet.  After a few extra minutes, they cleared up the confusion and we headed through security. I was a little emotional (yes, tears, deep breathing, "this plane is going to crash"...okay, maybe more than a little emotional) as I thought about what we were truly preparing to do, but we made it through security and headed for dinner.  I was adamant that my kids weren't eating junk for dinner.  Not knowing what we'd be eating over the next 24 hours of travel (aside from the snacks and baby food "smoothie" pouches I had in my carry-on), I didn't want them eating burgers and fries before getting on the plane. So we headed further down the terminal for a deli.  Somewhere, I thought our flight left later than it did so I thought as we started heading back to our gate, we had plenty of time.  Yep, you all know where this is going.  Around the same time, J started thinking, "Hmmm...this is an AirBus that seats over 500 people.  They've got to take plenty of time to get that many people loaded and seated on a plane.  Shouldn't they be calling our flight?"  And then as we neared the gate, we heard it..."J..., A..., K..., this is the final call for these passengers."  What?  Wait, aren't we supposed to load early because we're traveling with young children?  We break into a full out run!  J scoops Bug out of the stroller and picks up the stroller to carry as he runs with her.  I'm running with Doodle in the Ergo (can't begin to give that baby carrier enough credit!) on my front and my backpack on my back with Bug's backpack in my arms!  We are the third to last people to walk into the hallway leading to the plane...and this is while we're still in the States...WHERE THEY SPEAK ENGLISH!  We make it on and get "settled," but certainly not as settled as I'd like. 

I'll leave off there for tonight, but let's just say that after that start, my nerves were a little more frayed.  What WAS this trip going to hold?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Painful Transitions and Joy

Oh, my poor abandoned blog!  It's been a 7!  A lot has happened in the half a year that has past including a trip to West Africa with our 11 month old and almost 3 year old, but more about that in my next post.

When my husband and I decided that we were going to take a trip to Burkina Faso with Bugaboo and Doodle, I was pretty naive about the transitions they would have to go through.  I figured it was ONLY a 5 hour time change so they'd breeze right through that.  I didn't really think about the fact that they'd be expected to shake hands for the first time (not something 2 year olds typically do in our culture) or that I should have prepared them for many eyes staring at the very white girl with blonde hair walking down the street.  But probably the biggest thing I left out in preparing them for another culture was the heartache that would come when we left the joy of new friendships behind.  Though we don't feel called to full-time international ministry, I think it's safe to say that my husband and I do feel called to full-time support (prayer, financial, visits) to those in full-time international ministry.  This means taking trips like the one we took to West Africa which also means saying goodbyes...making new friends, loving new friends, and saying goodbye to new friends.  This is hard for anyone, but especially for a 3 year old! 

Bugaboo talks about her African experiences and her friends, L, D, and M, almost daily.  This is wonderful because it allows her to personalize our trip, keep it alive in her own way, and talk about the friends she made.  But it's a double-edged also means she misses L, D, and M a lot.  It means she doesn't understand why they didn't come back to the States with us.  It means she can't wait until she gets to see them in October, but it also means she doesn't understand that October is 4 months away.

Recently, Bugaboo had to say goodbye to a dear friend as he and his family moved overseas.  Again, the pain and the joy of my daughter having friends across the globe and the international opportunities we've been able to give her struck me!  I cried many tears as I told my dear friend goodbye, but a portion of those tears were for my daughter as she said, "Mommy, I don't want J to leave.  I will miss him, Mommy!" 

I am so fortunate that we have been able to give our daughters cross-cultural experiences at such a young age and I hope we continue to be able to do so.  I'm sorry that leaving friends behind is so hard for little ones (and big ones for that matter), but I do love that Bugaboo talks daily about a country that American Airlines claims isn't in existence (lol)!