Five years ago, the word Australia was the elephant in the room. I had forbidden my husband to mention it ever again, particularly in front of my family. The word itself signified for me not so much the stereotypical images of kangaroos hopping in the Outback or surfers on Bondi Beach, but rather a deep dark hole of fear. If I allowed myself to consider the possibility of transporting our family there, I was fairly certain it would be a disaster. The potential losses were too great. The potential gains (exploring the Great Barrier Reef? international adventures? family bonding moments?) were too nebulous to offer any comfort.
Looking back I can see that I was both right and wrong. The losses were indeed great. We hurt our family members and effectively ended friendships that had been of great importance to us. We subjected our kids to lifelong impact by removing them from their home country for four impressionable years, and yes, the family bonding proved to be more nebulous than we had wished. All too often it turned into family fighting and bickering.
What I failed to anticipate fully were the potential benefits. Certainly I did not expect to find a family away from home. I did not have enough faith in the God who had sustained us this far in our lives to see us through the changes, nor did I envision the lifelong friendships that were forged as we carved out a life on the southern hemisphere.
What a joy, therefore, to spend time with such lifelong friends over these Christmas holidays. We have undertaken more than one excursion (photos below), and tomorrow we head off for an adventure in the U.S. capital. But mostly we have appreciated the opportunity to hang together once more. Knowing as we do so well the pain of separation, we are doing our best to savor every moment.