Not long ago we hit the first anniversary of our move from Australia to the U.S. I can’t believe it has been a year already. Time has flown by and yet so much has happened in one year it’s hard to keep it all straight. So what do I think and how do I feel after a year of living in Florida? Well, the short answer is I still can’t believe we are here.
I still marvel at how perfectly God prepared us for our move to the U.S. Moving half way across the world to a place we’ve never been, to live and work with people we’ve never met has the potential to provide an array of challenges. And yet God was preparing us, even before it was an idea in somebody’s mind (which is a blog post all on its own), so that the challenges we faced were not as difficult as they might have been.
The biggest challenge was, obviously, moving away from family. In the year that we’ve been here there has been a baby born, a wedding, birthdays without all the family there, and tragic events. In all these circumstances I have not been able to be involved with and offer my support in the way that I’d like. I haven’t got to hold my first nephew or be there to give he and his sister their birthday presents from their adoring Aunty. I haven’t been able to give a hug when family was sad. This has been hard.
And yet God has reduced the impact of those separations by supplying technologies that allow us to communicate face to face with our loved ones. I have cried with, face to face, those that are sad and going through a tough time. I have seen and heard my nephew coo and ga and cry and make all those cute little noises that babies make. I was able to attend a wedding via FaceTime (albeit a little groggy at 3am in the morning). I have seen the new chooks wondering around Grandpa’s back yard. We have still been able to share in those everyday moments. Obviously it’s not the same as physically being there, but it has reduced the sting of separation a great deal.
As well as still being able to be involved in our families lives, God has also brought people into our lives who love us and invite us to share in their lives. These friendships that we have developed since being here are such a blessing. Wonderful godly people who generously give of themselves to meet our needs. Whether it be with a meal, an ear to listen, babysitting the kids so we can have a date night, advice and explanation when we are unsure about something, and just generally supporting us.
I have found Americans, on the whole, to be extremely polite. It has taken me some time to get used to being called “Ma’am.” They always hold the door open for you, always say “you’re welcome” and service people in stores and restaurants always do their best to help you and serve you with a smile (except maybe at Walmart ;)). “Sir” and “Ma’am” are slowly making their way into my vocabulary although using them still does not come naturally to me and knowing the appropriate time to use them I have also found challenging. I will have to teach this etiquette to my children but not really sure how to yet. I might need some lessons!
This past year was an election year in the States. This, although not in a big way, probably presented me with the greatest culture shock that I have experienced since being here. I greatly admire the conviction that many displayed as they fervently discussed the issues, wearing their political heart on their sleeve as it were. Yet I am more of a “keep my opinions to myself” and the typical Aussie “She’ll be right mate” kind of person. This election seemed to be extremely emotive, which I found to be a little overwhelming at times. Something I’m sure I’ll get used to as I continue to acclimate (a new word I had never heard before coming to America) to life here.
I am constantly amazed by how beautiful it is here. Sure, there are areas, like anywhere, that are not so nice, but on the whole it is very lovely. There are so many springs and national parks, and trees, trees, and more trees! It seems to me that developers have taken a lot of pains to create neighborhoods that are pretty, pleasant, and peaceful. Tree conservations are everywhere and so are the birds. Bright red cardinals, majestic hawks and cute little wrens. We have just moved and our new house backs onto a tree conservation. It is very pretty and a wonderful place to provide a Charlotte Mason education. After a year I still marvel at how God provides for our every need and often our wants, including a house with a tree conservation, something that was a huge desire of mine to aid in our nature studies.
We had the opportunity to see more of this beautiful country when we went on a road trip in the middle of last year. We went to Memphis, St Louis, Lafayette, Washington DC and Charlston. Each place was unique, and as we drove through 17 states we were thrilled to see so much of the farming countryside, the spectacular mountains as we drove to DC, and the amazing architecture of DC. I can’t wait to go back. Later in the year we explored further south, to Miami and The Everglades. This country offers so much to see I can’t wait for the next road trip. Oh, and there’s Disney. Need I say more?
So how do I feel about the first year in this country? Extremely blessed. It is a wonderful part of the world and a wonderful people. A year ago we had no idea what was in store for us or if we would even like it here. But I am pleased to say that God has abundantly met our needs and our affection for this country grows the longer we spend in it. So come visit sometime.