The day is finally arriving! Tomorrow morning at 10:30 am, a truck will be pulling up to our door and several men will be in charge of moving all of our stuff to our new apartment. I just talked to John and he said that the kitchen is almost completely ready--just a few final details to finish up (like hook up the gas, fix a leak in the hot water heater, etc.). He said it looks great! I am so excited! I can hardly believe it is actually happening!
We are 98% packed up here at our old place; so much so that I called my friend Rachel today and asked if we could spend the morning and have lunch at her place today. With everything packed, it's really not a fun place for the girls to spend much time. They're napping now and we'll just have this one last evening to spend in our place.
About a week ago, I was so impatient for the move, and feeling like saying "Good Riddance" to our apartment with its issues (dusty, a toilet that seems perpetually broken, our "shower" in the middle of the bathroom floor, the touchy electrical outlets, etc.). I shared my feelings with John (read: complained) and he said that instead I should focus on all of the happy memories that we've had in this place. I grudgingly agreed.
Last night, it was his turn. He was celebrating the fact that the girls no longer had to bathe in their tiny tub, with perhaps a touch of "good riddance" in his voice. But then I was the one waxing nostalgic about all of the memories we've made in this place.
We've lived here more than 4 years. That is longer than we've lived anywhere in our marriage. If the walls could talk, they would tell you about the births of three healthy girls, about welcoming those babies into the family. They would tell you about some tough times where we were really lonely and feeling like we weren't doing any good here. They would tell you how we learned and grew, how we made friends, how our language skills improved, how we hosted many people for meals with lots of talking and a little singing around the piano afterwards. They would tell you about the birthdays celebrated, about the over-the-top Christmas lights, and about the good smells that came from the kitchen. And they would tell you that we were happy here.
It's funny, because my girls probably will not remember this place, or only have very faint memories of it, by the time they reach adulthood. A place whose address I have said to literally thousands of taxi drivers over the years will no longer be our home.
As we've prepared the children for our move, we've talked again about what "home" means. This was a discussion we started when we were getting ready to go back to the States last year, when we knew we would be in a lot of transition, and when a simple question from a stranger "Where are you from?" was enough to make me pause and think twice. What we shared with the girls then is what I've been telling them again now: Home is where your family is. If you are with your family, then you are at home. Even more, home is where the body of Christ is. If we are together with those who also love Jesus, then we are at home. And of course, we know that actually, truly, this world is not our home. It is ours only for a brief while until we get to our true Home, which is what we are all longing for. Our desire for safety and security, a place where we can relax, unwind, be ourselves, be refreshed, be encouraged, and all of that are all desires for our true home. No home on earth can perfectly fulfill that longing.
But with that being said, we are eager to provide even a shadow of that type of home for our family to live in. We are excited about our new home. Clara Anne is excited about her new purple room with Dora sheets. I'm excited about a bathtub! But more than that, I'm looking forward to making memories in a new place, and hoping that we can live there for a long, long time. I hope it will be the place my girls grow up.
So, goodbye Jiefang Dong Lu #58-1-3-401. Hello Lu Neng Kang Qiao #12-4-502! Stay tuned . . . pictures to follow in the coming days!