We were sitting in a congregational meeting after the church service on our last Sunday at our church. I was listening to all the discussions and plans for budgets in the coming year and doing my best to focus on the present but my mind was reeling with many other things! We were supposed to leave the next morning to begin our trip down to Mexico and I knew that we had A LOT to do. And by “a lot” I mean I was truly wondering how we were possibly going to get it all done- for real. Well, I was right- it was too much to get done and we did not get it all done in time!
Mom watched the kids while Tom and I packed for hours and hours and it didn’t take long for us to realize that our deadline was unrealistic. Our situation necessitated some quick changes to our time line and plan! After a few emails and phone calls we had a new plan in place and it gave us one extra night to wrap everything up! I was extremely thankful that we were able to be flexible in this way because we were driving instead of flying! It would require some late driving the first two days but it would be fine.
So, rather than Monday Nov. 10th, we actually left Michigan on Tuesday the 11th! After prayers and goodbyes with “Grampa & Gramma” & “Granty Char” we pulled out of the driveway bright and early… after a few hours of sleep. 🙂 No matter- we were on our way! Our first stop was Indiana where we had lunch with some dear friends. We wish we could have spent more time with them but our visit had to be short and sweet because we had many more miles of road to cover that day! After pressing on for the rest of the day and night we finally arrived at our second stop in Missouri at about 12:30am. The kids were out and we were glad for it! We crashed right away and looked forward to seeing many great friends over the following two days. The kids were troopers and it was a fun & busy few days as we caught up with different people. Trying to make the most of our time, several visits went late into the night but it was worth it!
Next stop was in Oklahoma where we visited a good friend of our’s that used to be my roomy in Bible School! She and her husband were amazing hosts and were super generous to us! Again, we were sad that our stay was so brief but we made the most of it and enjoyed every precious minute.It was at about this time (back in Michigan) that my parents did us a HUGE favor and took our stuff to the truck terminal to be trucked down to El Paso, TX to meet us. Not wanting to have to pay for a small U-haul, they somehow crammed all of our stuff into their two family vehicles and took it to the trucking terminal an hour away! Ha! It was no small job but they pulled it off! Thanks Dad & Mom! It was important that our things were sent after we left so that it would not beat us to El Paso!
The next morning we were back on the road again and headed toward the massive state of Texas! Fort Worth, Texas was our next stop so that we could visit some truly special people! It was an incredible blessing to us to spend a few days with our co-workers from Papua New Guinea! They have been on home assignment for a few months now and it worked perfectly for us to stop and see them! The Bealls are like family to us! There is something about working side-by-side as missionaries, living on a tiny island together, struggling and sweating at the same time, that knits you together at your core! 🙂 We are truly bonded in deep sincere friendship and love them dearly.
Of the Beall’s seven kids, only one was missing for this visit (we missed you Bethany!). The feeling of being together again was life giving to my heart! Laughing, sharing stories, catching up on little details and even shedding tears when it was needed. We could not be more thankful for this visit. Both our families are trusting the Lord with the future and resting in the fact that God knows what He is doing even when we do not. Even though we will not be ministering alongside each other anymore we will remain close! After our wonderful visit with the Beall’s we hit the road yet again toward our final stop before crossing into Mexico: El Paso! At this point in the road trip things got easier in a lot of ways because the highways are long and straight and the speed limit went up to 80mph! Wahoo! That’s what I’m talking about!It was really amazing to see the landscape change so drastically! The kids enjoyed spotting cactus and watching the grass go from green to brown, to non-existent! 🙂 The sun was blazing the whole way down which necessitated a stop at the Dollar Tree for some sun glasses for Jude! 😀
When we got to El Paso we found the NTM guesthouse easily and pulled up to the correct address. Just as our GPS told us we had arrived at our destination I noticed a large Semi truck parked on the same street. It seemed strange and then it hit me-could this be the truck delivering our things? I squinted to see into the open back and spotted a bright green tote in one of the piles in the back! AGHK! It WAS our stuff! How crazy is that?! We were not expecting the delivery to arrive for another day or two and here it was! Tom jumped out of the van and ran to talk to the driver and in no time at all he was helping the guys unload our boxes.
After arriving at the guest house it was nice to be able to relax a bit and not be in the van so much! The kids were very happy to play with toys, get active in the little play area and explore! Right away we got to work knocking off a lot of things on our to do list. Buying some last minute items to take over the border (some groceries & electric blankets so we don’t freeze at nights, etc..). Tom continued to finalize paperwork stuff and we went to Mexican Consulate in El Paso and got our visa work processed for this side of the border. All of that went very smoothly and we felt like things were clipping along at a perfect pace!
Another thing that went perfectly was that Don & Chrissy surprised us by showing up early! They had come up from Mexico to help us get our stuff across the border in their massive truck! Almost all of stuff fit perfectly in the cab of their truck and we were thrilled! It was great to be together again and we have so enjoyed spending time with them again and talking about all things Mexico!
Now that the girl cousins (Iris & Lily) were reunited it was time to get a Mexican “culture event” out of the way. Apparently most Mexican baby girls get their ears pierced right in the hospital! Neither Iris or Lily had their ears pierced and Lily had already been mistaken for a boy a few times in Mexico (I know! Shocking! How could anyone think that her little dolly girl face was a boy?) Anyway-it was clear, our girls needed earrings to fit into Mexican culture! 😉 So we marched to the cheapest place to get earrings (Walmart, just in case you were wondering) and got the job done! It was a memorable and exciting outing! Now our girls are proudly sporting sparkly little studs in their ears and we are that much more ready for crossing the border! Ha!
As soon as we got most of our stuff done and were ready to go down to Mexico-that’s when things started going a bit crazy. 🙁 We totally planned on being in Mexico by now but the Lord had us wait a bit-again. 🙂 We were counting on our license plates arriving for our van very shortly after we arrived here in El Paso and that did not happened as expected. We cannot cross the border with out plates on the van! After several inquiring phone calls to the dealership we bought the van from, Tom discovered that our plates were the victims of an error by the Postal service and because of that we waited longer than expected for them to arrive.
The next time you hear from us we’ll be writing you from Mexico! Stay tuned!