A quick catch-up on what we've been up to lately...
We had a lovely 4 weeks of relaxing and exploring Austin more together, and then a couple of weeks of selling our furniture, cleaning and packing. We arrived a year ago to an empty house and built up our furniture gradually, so we went through the reverse process this time, ending up with just airbeds again. We had 6 suitcases and 6 pieces of hand luggage to fill with things, but there was still a lot left over that we had to leave. We have been blessed by God to have so many good things that we can't even carry it all!
Sid had been looking very energetically for a job, but in the end the job found him! We have known for some time that God is calling us to move over to Africa, and specifically to Zambia, but we weren't sure of the timing. During the last year, we've increasingly felt that it was going to be soon, and might even be the next step after Sid's course. So Sid was looking at jobs in Zambia, and other surrounding countries. He was looking for work that would be meaningful, and that would be a challenge and use all his newly learnt MBA skills. At his graduation ceremony, Sid gave the commencement speech, and someone in the audience (the father of one of Sid's classmates) heard him speaking about our plans to move to Zambia and realised that Sid could be a good match for 2 jobs he had in Tanzania and Kenya. His organisation is the Henry M Jackson Foundation, who do medical research for the military. The jobs themselves have little to do with anything medical or military though! It's Program Management, which is everything from financial controls to hiring to setting up contracts to training to resolving labour disputes. Sid went to the organisation's HQ in Baltimore for some interviews, which he felt went very well, and then we had a nailbiting 3 week wait to hear from them.
A few weeks in I started feeling like we should be thanking God for the job, so we did. A little while after, we heard that they were in the process of working out an offer for Sid! After waiting so long to hear, it would have been natural to assume they were not interested, but we also know from experience that God often leaves us waiting to the last minute. I think those times are meant to be opportunities to learn real reliance on God. Whether that job had come through or not, we knew God would provide for us. We left Austin with our suitcases, not knowing if the job was going to work out or not. It was part way through the journey back to England that we heard that it was all sorted, and Sid accepted the job!
So we are going into a season of travel now. We flew from Austin to Manchester and stayed with some friends in Birmingham for a few days, and then had a week with my whole family in a holiday house in Chester. Then we repacked and flew to Zambia (via Amsterdam and Kenya). We're here for 3 weeks, staying in Lusaka and Chingola. Sid's sister, Ivy, is getting married on July 3rd, so we're excited to be able to rejoice with her and her fiancé, Paul. We'll fly back to England on July 15th and spend a couple of weeks in Chester sorting through things we left in our house and catching up with friends, then go to Shetland for a week to stay with my parents. From there we'll fly to Washington (1st week of August) where Sid will have 2 or 3 months of training to get to grips with how the organisation works. Then towards the end of the year (Oct/Nov) we'll be moving to Mbeya, Tanzania. That is likely to be a short-term placement, so we can move to Dar-es-Salaam by the time Esther needs to start school in September 2011.
It feels strange to have no base right now. We'll be living out of suitcases until we arrive in Washington midAugust. But it's exciting to be seeing so many different places! Esther is a fantastic traveller – other than throwing up on the flight from Austin! But she's very flexible. We've always tried to explain to her what's going on around her, and what our plans are (I remember Sid walking her around the house when she was just a few hours old, explaining what happens in each room!). I think that really helps her feel secure in new places, and if there's something we haven't explained she'll often ask about it. Going from America to England last week, we hadn't realised that she would not necessarily remember what England's like. We left England when she was 2 and a half, so she's spent the last third of her life in the US. She misses her friends in Austin but was happy to see some friends in Chester. Now we're in Africa and trying to explain things that she hasn't seen before – people riding in the open back of a truck, fruit & veg stalls and pens of live chickens by the side of the road, people speaking other languages. It's great to be able to show Esther a taste of Africa before our move to Tanzania later on.
If anyone in Chester is reading this and wants to catch up with us, we'll be around from the 15th of July for 2 weeks. Also, if anyone knows of anyone going on holiday around that time whose house might need sitting, please let us know!