After almost 10 years in South Africa, and finally being settled and creating a life here, we are again on the move!
If you had told me four years ago that I’d be gearing up to start all over again in a new country, I’d laugh in your face and say, “No, thanks. I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt”. But God laughs when we think thoughts like that.
In many ways this move feels counter intuitive. Our friends are here, we know and understand (for the most part) the culture, the weather and natural beauty are wonderful, and our home is here.
However, about two years ago a feeling of restlessness started showing its head more and more in our lives and we knew a big change was coming. It showed up when we realized that buying a property in South Africa just was not going to be in the cards for us as foreigners, and again when my husband essentially lost his job and there was nothing we could do about it (like get another job) for many months because of visa constraints, but mainly it kept showing up whenever we thought about having a church community our hearts long for. For the whole of the last two years we had tried so hard visiting new churches and trying to get involved, but we kept feeling we were trying to open a door the Lord was closing.
Whenever I’d bring the subject up with God all I’d hear back was that our season in SA was coming to an end and that we should get ready to go to a land that He would show us. (The Lord knows how much I looove not knowing what the plan is and not having control over the situation… NOT!)
Coincidentally, around that time, I discovered I qualified for an Italian Citizenship through my great-grandfather (thanks grandpa) and we decided this was a door we needed to pursue. If not for our wish to travel more and having to deal with less bureaucracy (in some instances), then for opening doors of opportunities for our future kids which will now hold both and American and European citizenships.
After spending two months in Italy and considering making the move there (since it seemed like the obvious choice), we realized that as wonderful as it would be to live la dolce vita sipping a glass of wine under the Tuscan sun, there would be very practical daily challenges because of the language barrier. From getting a job to having internet installed at home, but most importantly, to actually developing a real community, these would prove to be stressful and not very dolce if you ask me. I mean, if you’re a catholic, Italy is the place to be with no shortage of churches (amazing ones for that matter) in every corner but if you’re into revival, that’s a whole different story.
Communication is key in any relationship and inserting ourselves in a country where we would be deprived of communication for a few months (in the best-case scenario), if not years (in the worst case), just did not have the same appeal to us as it probably would have had 10 or so years ago. As someone who had to adapt to a new country before, I know that if we are to have a fighting chance to start over in a new country we do not know much about, having a supportive community of friends is as essential as oxygen and something we are not willing to compromise.
Having these in mind coupled with a desire to be in Europe (even if just for a season), the UK, then, became the obvious choice. We ended up settling on the idea of London, for the possibilities it could offer us as far as community goes (so many churches we want to visit) and being in the southern area of the UK (read a little extra minute of sunlight, when the sun actually shows up once a year).
But like I said in the beginning, in many ways this move feels counter intuitive. We are heading to a very expensive country, which is currently going through a very big change (Brexit) and with that change there is a whole world of unknowns and uncertainties. While we have peace that this move is being orchestrated by God, I definitely have many moments of doubt, fear and uncertainty. But yesterday, after having yet another chat with God and borderline panicking because of the circumstances we will be going into, He very generously gave me this verse:
Isaiah 32:18-20 New Living Translation (NLT)
18 My people will live in safety, quietly at home.
They will be at rest.
19 Even if the forest should be destroyed
and the city torn down,
20 the Lord will greatly bless his people.
Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up.
Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.
While we do not own cattle or donkeys, we do feel the Lord is going ahead of us and He’s preparing a place for us. And if the place is being prepared by Him, no matter where, how unfamiliar or “difficult” it will be, that’s where I want to be!