Flying out of Taiwan we ended up taking 2 more suitcases than we came with, plus shipping 6 boxes of schoolbooks and other small items back to the US. Ironically we flew out of Taiwan 10 years to the day after we had moved into our home in Ohio. Ironic, for sure.
We landed at the airport in Omaha, Nebraska, a town we had never even visited before, because my parents had moved there and they had a house large enough for the 5 of us to stay there. My dad had to bring his trailer to pick us and all our luggage up from the airport! We were quite a scene and we could barely walk through the airport without people stopping us to ask about all our bags. We were exhausted, but excited to be back in the US and to see our family. Forcing everyone to stay awake as along as possible to try to adjust (again) to a 12 hour time difference, we survived through dinner and fell asleep around 8pm Omaha time.
Upon waking on our first full day back in the US we proceeded to make plans for getting settled in North Carolina. How would we get our things that were in storage with family in Chicago and Cincinnati, plus things at my parents, and all 5 of us to Camp Lejeune? Where would we live? Buy a house, rent a house, or rent a flat? How could we possibly buy a car, all the furniture we would need, and get a home set up? And doing it all during what felt like the middle of the night to us! We quickly went to work.
Giving ourselves one day to get adjusted and pick up the basic things we would need (shampoo, American foods we had missed), on our second day back we came up with the plan for the move and proceeded to go to Nebraska Furniture Mart – the largest furniture store in the US to purchase much of the furniture for whatever new place we ended up living in. Overwhelming does not begin to describe that experience. Too many choices, not enough sleep. I remember telling Husband, “I don’t care! Just pick out a bed!” (By the way he did a great job and I love the mattress he selected!) I sat in the living room section, tears streaming down my face, because the whole experience was just more than I could handle. Luckily our selections of that day have proven to work well for our new home!
My parents agreed to watch the kids for several days and 4 days after landing in the US, Husband and I took off cross-country in a U-haul truck. We spent 14 hours in Chicago picking up things at my mother-in-law’s home and eating good pizza. We went through Cincinnati, picking up things from my father-in-law’s house and getting the opportunity to connect with friends and our old small group who had blessed and sent us prayerfully to Taiwan just 15 months earlier. It was a surreal experience. We also purchased a car in Cincinnati and added towing a trailer behind our U-haul.
We rose early and proceeded to drive from Cincinnati to Jacksonville, NC in that third day of our trip. We arrived in Jacksonville having no idea where to go or what to do. We drove past the Main Gate entrance of Camp Lejeune. As we passed stores, strip clubs, and bars I was near tears, thinking “What have we done?!”
But God is good – all the time! And the craziness of those first days back in the US were not to be a predictor of everyday life. Though there would be more ups and downs to come, in a few short weeks we would be completely settled in Jacksonville, just in time for Christmas.