09 July, 2012

Unexpected, random, and comfortable

Yesterday we went to the church that my husband went to when he was at Uni and through to when we left for Japan in November 2000. It wasn't what we expected.
  1. It has shrunk, again. When we left in 2000, it was a church of over 100 people with a lively uni ministry, lots of young couples, etc. Since then the church has been through some difficult years (of varying natures, which I won't go into here) and each time we've come back home it's been smaller. This hits hard each time, even if friends have communicated with us about the situation. Each time we come back, familiar faces are missing. That's sad.
  2. Weeks earlier we were told we would be doing during the service, in terms of a short presentation, but it was not what we ended up doing. Pretty typical. Flexibility is a missionary's middle name.
  3. The day before we found out there was a bring and share lunch. It worked out okay in the end as a shopping centre was nearby. My boys pigged out on seedless grapes; (I don't understand why there are here now, it is winter after all!) they usually only get big seedless grapes when we go to Costco. These variety of grapes don't seem to be sold in Japan.
Then other random things happened:
  • We had four boys sitting with us for part of the service (before the younger kids went out for the sermon). The four-year-old son of the Venzes, our good friends, has really taken (again) to our boys. Have you ever noticed that little boys love big boys? Even big boys love bigger boys (for example the friend we hung out with on Friday is in his 30s and our boys love him). So, there was no question that the 4 y.o. was going to sit with his family, he wanted to sit with "the boys"!
  • A lady I'd never met came up to me and raved about my blog and how she not only read it, but had told a friend in South Africa that she must read it too. I never know what to say when these random conversations happen, but this time there was no problem, as she left without giving me opportunity to say anything at all!
  • Though people seemed generally unaware that we were only in Australia for a holiday (telling me that they haven't read our prayer letters or this blog recently), they were keen for us to stay longer, to be there again next week. The same thing happened last week at a different church. My inference? People don't have the time (or don't bother) to keep up with someone who just sends news, but prefer face-to-face contact? In that case, us coming back semi-regularly is a good thing.
After church and lunch we picked up our next borrowed car and went back to our housesitting place to pack the car and finish cleaning. The main thing to do was the outside tiles. The back yard was muddy the whole week and the tiles are white. You can imagine the mess. It took a while, especially when complicated by an overly helpful 7 y.o., who ended up creating more work.

Then we drove that ever so familiar highway back to my hometown, Toowoomba. I've driven this road hundreds of times. It felt good. 

And getting back to my parent's home of nearly 25 years was good too. They had the wood heater going! So cosy. My boys feel so comfortable here. It is the only house in their lives that has remained constant. My 12 y.o. says it is his favourite house in all the houses he's encountered in his life.

The other cool thing about this house is that they store our stuff for us when we're out of the country. Most of it is in their roof cavity, but our larger furniture is in their house. I'm currently sitting on our very own lounge. Last night we slept on our own bed, the one we bought for the first house we lived in after we got married. The younger boys slept on our bunk beds too! They have some of our spare toys, the boys have been playing with those this morning and we went out and flew our own kite. Now they are watching one of the DVDs that we left here (though in retrospect we should probably have brought them with us to Japan). I love it. There is something special about having a home base like this. I don't know how I'll feel when Mum and Dad need to move out of this place, but I think it will be sad.

I also love it that my boys are bigger than when we were last here and have adjusted to the changes better than they did when they were younger. It's making it a more relaxing holiday, that's for sure. I'm sure their grandparents are appreciating their greater "steadiness" too. It isn't easy to be a grandparent at a distance. But I think it is probably even harder to be a grandparent when grandkids that you hardly know are suddenly thrust into your presence again!

This week we're taking things as they come, but also preparing for our motorhome adventure, which starts on Friday. But preparing for such a journey comes with a whole lot of questions, like, how much storage room will we have?

In the meantime we're enjoying being at our "home away from home".

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