I wrote this post before we left for our cruise....we are still hopefully relaxing and enjoying our time away. We will be back in Kingdom on June 3. But I wanted to commemorate our One Year in Saudi Anniversary!
One year ago we left our comfortable life in Texas....with my parents down the street and other family an hour away, an AMAZING church home (Clear Creek Community Church), wonderful friends, a great small group and overall a full life.....for an adventure. One year ago today we headed to the airport with our 10 week old baby, our 2.5 year old and a BUNCH of suitcases excited about what was to come...a little naive and full of nerves.
What a difference a year makes....
this year has been an insane journey through highs and lows and every emotion in between. I have had moments of happiness, joy, excited, fulfillment, loneliness, emptiness, confusion, doubt, comfort and so, so, so many more. In a year we have experienced SO much personal change from moving, to adjusting to having two kids, to being away from family, making new friends, traveling around the Middle East with our crazy drive to Abu Dhabi and going back several more times, or flying back to the States alone with the kids, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain (many, many times), Dubai....and now we are on a cruise through the Mediterranean! Crazy!
So many new families are arriving on camp and I so clearly remember when we came how eager, excited, naive and ready for the challenge we were. We totally underestimated how incredibly challenging it is to adjust to a new culture, country, religious environment....and do that with a new baby! Looking back....we were insane! But as incredibly hard as it has been and I would say that it has been one of the hardest years of my life....I am amazed at how much I have grown. It has been incredibly painful but I have grown stronger, more confident, more aware of myself and my emotions and responses and am becoming a better person, wife and mother daily. My relationship with God and understanding of what that looks like on a day to day basis has been tested, tried, challenged and is currently undergoing some major work. But it is still there despite not having a church home, not being in a religiously free country and despite some major challenges over the year. Our marriage has only gotten stronger which we are so thankful for and very aware at how that could have not been the case. We are thankful for the people, mentors, classes (Dynamic Marriage) and weekend retreats (Weekend to Remember) and time that we put into our marriage in the beginning to build a strong foundation based in His design for marriage that allowed us to withstand the stresses of being here and still grow as husband and wife. That is honestly....besides surviving a whole summer in Saudi and Ramadan and without our stuff....is one of my major achievements of the year.
How are we doing after this year? Better. I have made some good friends here and enjoy the company of friends from all over the world...although the majority of my friends are from the UK or Scotland....and one German friend! I have found several people who provide deep, authentic and challenging conversation that I need to grow as a person and I a diligent in having regular time with them to converse without children around. I LOVE our house and it feels like our home. We have a pretty good routine and I have more good days than bad. Peyton has an abundance of friends, loves swimming lessons, ballet and her school and the beach. She has adjusted to being away from her G and Papa and Granny Martha and no longer gets upset when we Skype. She has become an awesome traveler and is doing well. Graham is thriving...although I think anywhere he had food he would be ok. He has baby friends, loves the beach, has great childcare providers in his life and is healthy. John will have to post on his experience thus far. We are so blessed to have my sister close by and I am incredibly appreciative of the time that we have been able to spend together and how our relationship has grown.
So..one year down in this crazy adventure...I don't know what the next year has in store for us and I don't know how long we will be here but I am trying to live in the moment. Find the joy and blessings in each day and be thankful for what has been provided to us at this moment in our life. What a wild ride it has been and I am looking forward to what HE has in store for us this year!