After 22 months of living in Salmiya, Kuwait, I can safely say I know two things for certain:
1) God is faithful.
2) Never say "never."
Our God has been so faithful to see us through every moment of our time here. Every single one.
And oh, the things I've said I'd never do...
I've been humbled time and time again as I have to turn-tail on something I said I'd NEVER do. ("I'll NEVER drive in this crazy country!" "We will NEVER purchase a car here!" are just a few of the highlights)
I said I'd NEVER drive a car here in Kuwait. Now I drive everywhere, including up along the curbs like all the other drivers, and I view "one way" signs as merely suggestions, just like everyone else.
The last two years have held my hardest parenting moments to date; from being forced to sit down and hold my daughter's arm so a nurse - whom I had to request to please, please, please wear gloves during this process - could draw an entire vile of blood (for a "blood type sample", which they *should* only need one drop for) because we can't stay in the country we've just relocated across the globe to without this test being done, even though I know this whole process isn't on the up and up... to loading my babies up in a taxi with me where there are zero seat belts while a man who spoke no English drove us around unknown areas.
We've experienced a plethora of different types of foods, and even different ways in which people eat their meals. We've become educated on different parts of the world, from people who actually have lived there. We've had beautiful, enlightening discussions with fabulous people of different faiths, and celebrated all that we share in common. We've observed various and diverse ways of dress.
We've, I hope, via our sharing on Facebook or this blog, helped dispel even the smallest amount of Islamophobia that is so prevalent currently.
We've visited countries I'd never even thought of traveling to prior to moving to Kuwait. We've become more well-rounded people, daily reminding ourselves and engraving on our hearts that different doesn't mean wrong.
I'm not naive; I realize Kuwait living is different depending on the color or your skin and the color of your passport, but for our family it's overall been a very positive experience.
One of the best things that has happened for me personally is I've learned to be patient and give myself - and others - more grace as it takes time to acclimate to new surroundings.
I have a different definition of what "home" means to me now.
My slippers are home.
My cozy blanket is home.
Cuddling on a couch watching "Psych" reruns with my husband is home.
Eating dinner around the table - any table, with any dishes - hearing my kids talk about their day is home.
Scented candles are home.
Our son coming to snuggle in our bed at 2:00am is home.
My family is home.
Home is not the four walls I spend my days in.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and under-prepared for things like reverse culture shock...like, should I be doing more to prep our kids for this transition back to life in America? I don't know (and am open to any advice, Audrey or other previous expat parents out there!) but my gut says I can't really prepare in advance for such a thing. It's kinda like when you're pregnant and everybody tells you to "sleep now! Because you won't be able to soon!!"
Our plan is to just kinda parent by feel.
And when I am afraid, I'll do my best to raise my Ebenezer Stone and recall all that God has been faithful to see us through over the last 22 months...
I've broken a bone here and had emergency surgery here.
I've ridden a camel on the beach in Oman.
I've taken rides from strangers.
We've been inside of the tallest building in the entire world.
My daughter and I have sat atop an elephant as it walked in a river in Sri Lanka.
I've signed paperwork that is entirely in Arabic that I can not read.
We learned how to make homemade wine.
I've waded in the Persian Gulf.
I've confronted people so loudly in the mall and then had to go quickly find David and confess "we need to leave NOW, I've just made a scene..."
By the time we arrive back in Portland, I will have added EIGHT new stamps to my passport.
We've toured the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
I've put my children in front of the TV and locked myself in the bathroom to bawl my eyes out because I'm so overwhelmed with all that is different here.
I've made lifelong, authentic, fascinating friends.
I've confirmed that without pork products, it's really hard to make a decent breakfast casserole.
I've learned some Arabic.
We've survived the hottest day ever recorded.
I've swum in the Indian Ocean.