Monday, February 27, 2012

Bloomin' Monday: Moving Overseas, Part 1

Hi again!

I hope you all are enjoying this series on Making the Most of Moving to a New Town and beginning to Bloom more in your current location.  As you've probably figured out by now, my husband and I have moved a lot during our marriage - 12 times in 13 years, to be exact! - but all of those moves have been within the United States.

Back in late 2002, my parents moved to Ecuador as missionaries.  I have asked my Mom to write a few guest posts for Bloomin' Monday on the lessons she learned from that experience.  She blogs at The Proverbs 32 Woman, and I know she would love it if you would stop by for a visit.

Here's what she wrote for today:

In the first 31 years that Steve and I were married, we moved 6 times.  Three of those were within the same zip code, and all were within the State of Alabama.  The process was logical and predictable.  Find a place to live, line up a moving truck, throw everything in a box, have the utilities and phone turned off at the old place and on at the new place, fill out some change-of-address cards, line up some friends and/or professionals with strong backs, and hope to arrive with a minimum of breakage and miscalculation in terms of what-would-fit-where.  All dealings were transacted in English – even SOUTHERN English – and the kids never had to change school systems.
In 2002, we were given the incredible opportunity of moving to Ecuador and serving as Southern Baptist missionaries.  All previous “knowns” became “unknowns,” and every single item that we had acquired through 31 years of marriage needed to be examined and labeled: THROW AWAY, GIVE AWAY, STORE, or PACK.  Everything.  Our crate allowance from the Mission Board consisted of two 200-cu.ft. containers.  That’s right.  We were expected to reduce our needs for a minimum of 4 years down to 400 cu. ft.  The arrival date for those containers was a huge unknown (shipping time could be predicted, but when Customs would release them was something else entirely), so we had to further reduce our must-have belongings down to 2 suitcases and 2 footlockers that would arrive in the country on the plane with us.
Our children, who were by then married adults, were the primary beneficiaries of much of our “stuff.”  Other things were sold, so we could use that money to buy replacements in Ecuador.  Cherished items were boxed and stored in my Dad’s attic.  Good Will got many loads, and dumpsters were filled repeatedly.   We got it all done, but I vaguely remember these weeks as something of a blur.  Now, almost ten years later, Steve and I still look at each other sometime and say, “Whatever happened to the ______ we used to have?” 
We arrived in the country two days after Christmas and were taken to a furnished apartment by a fellow missionary who had loaned us some basics – 2 plates, 2 cups, 2 glasses, 2 forks, 2 towels, a potholder, you get the idea, a small aluminum skillet and a saucepan.  VERY basic.  We had not been issued a car yet, so we depended on this missionary (Linda) for transportation and everything, for that matter. 
The main order of business was getting some food in the refrigerator.  The challenge of cooking it was still to come.  The first of MANY culture shocks began in the supermarket where she carried us.  The frozen food section was only a little bigger than my last refrigerator, there was an entire aisle dedicated to rice, the meat section smelled funny and caused my stomach to churn unpleasantly, I was constantly looking up words in my dictionary to determine what I was looking at, etc.  “Overwhelmed” would be the mildest word I can think of to describe what I was feeling.  Where in the world were Betty Crocker, Green Giant, Del Monte, White Lily, Gold Medal and Sister Schubert when I needed them, for heaven’s sakes???  I filled my cart with the most recognizable items I could find – mostly fresh fruits and vegetables and a whole chicken.  We made it back to the apartment, and I remember just sitting and staring for a long time.
I had not used a gas stove in over 30 years, and I quickly found out that foods and ovens “did funny things” at an altitude of 8500 ft.  We would surely have starved in those early days without the hospitality of Linda and some of her friends while I learned how to cook all over again. 
Stay tuned for the continuing story next week....

This post is linked up to one or more of the following blog parties.  Check them out! Monday: Menu Plan Monday on I'm an Organizing Junkie Wednesday: Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family5 Minute Friday at The Gypsy Mama, Company Girl Coffee at Home Sanctuary Other days: A Wise Woman Builds Her Home Friday:

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