Well friends, we made it! We didn’t expect 7 months to go by before we were back in our apartment, but hey, we’re here at last and for that we are extremely thankful.
As most of you probably know, we arrived last Monday afternoon. The week that has passed since then has been nothing short of crazy, and at times, very difficult. The plane ride from Dallas to London was unfortunately terrible due to Elliott’s absolute refusal to go to sleep. He cried and cried and cried until the last hour and a half of the trip – of course. Luckily no one complained, but I did see a passenger put in earplugs every time Elliott let out a yell. Elliott was a dream on the plane ride from London to Vienna, though. Must’ve been that “we’re almost home” feeling. But Will and I are done with plane rides for at least 10 years. Maybe 20.
6 of our 7 bags made it home with us. Number 7 is still out there somewhere, filled with who knows what because we can’t remember what all we packed in that specific trunk. We’re hoping it returns sometime soon.
Culture shock, or reverse culture shock, or even perhaps reverse-reverse culture shock set in almost immediately, and that’s been the most difficult part of our time here so far. I think we both assumed we’d be able to do exactly what we did the last time we returned to Vienna after a lengthy stay in the U.S. – happily hit the ground running. But this time we mostly just hit the ground and have had a hard time getting back up. 7 months is a long time to be away from where you call home, especially if it’s in your host country. On top of that, we had been waiting for our big return to Vienna for so long that once we arrived, it didn’t feel like reality. It felt bizarre and weird and uncomfortable, and to have those feelings upon walking into our home was upsetting. Our apartment felt familiar and foreign at the same time. And Elliott was there – a strange addition to the place that has always belonged to only Will and me. Add a huge dose of jet lag, lack of sun, and Will’s, at the time, worsening cold to the mix and we had ourselves the perfect recipe for a culture shock meltdown.
We’re okay, though. We initiated help from the Haskews when we realized we needed help getting adjusted, and they’re the reason we’re doing so much better today. We’ve slept, Will is nearly completely recovered, and every day it feels more normal to be back here. Even our apartment is beginning to feel normal with Elliott and his million items about the place. The poor guy is still jet lagged so nights have been quite an ordeal, but he’s enjoying himself and loves walks in the stroller. The three of us are trying to take it slow and get reacquainted with the city we love so much.
We went to church for the first time Sunday which did our hearts good. It was wonderful to see our church family again and hug everyone’s necks. The singing was particularly beautiful and relaxing to hear. Elliott was welcomed right away and even had a collection of special prayers prayed over him by various people. It’s good to be back.
Now, as for Tobias. During our stay in the U.S., Tobias stayed with a family we know from church. Some of you may have even seen his pictures with them pop up on Facebook from time to time. They fell in love with Tobias right away (naturally), and have provided him with the utmost care, and it is because of this that we have decided to let this special family keep Tobias. They call him “King Toby” as he apparently eats like one and runs the household. His best friend is their precious 12 year old daughter who sleeps with him every night, refers to him as “sweetheart” and “the best kitty ever”, and teams up with him for snuggles during homework. He’s got an amazing, relaxed environment with them which is something we can’t currently provide and wouldn’t be able to do until we’re finally settled which could be months from now since we’re looking to move. He’s perfectly happy where he is and he makes our friends and their daughter happy, and that makes us happy. We’ll babysit Tobias when they need us to and we still get to see him on the Sundays we have house church at their place. We saw him yesterday and he looks great! He didn’t meet Elliott because Elliott was meeting everyone else, but hopefully they’ll see each other next Sunday.
We’re taking it easy this week and plan to stay at home for most of it. Our place is a suitcase disaster… I don’t even know where half of Elliott’s clothes are. Or mine for that matter. So we’ll mostly be unpacking and doing “normal” things, like grocery shopping, catching up on emails, drinking coffee, those sort of things. I’m picking up my permit on Friday so that’s my big event of the week. Will will begin work next Monday.
Thank you all for your prayers as we make this transition and start this new and exciting journey.