In all of our almost ten years of marriage, Matthew and I have moved fourteen times.
A few of those times, it was “just” moving a bunch of suitcases from one place to another as we switched apartments, while the rest of our belongings were in storage. I love reflecting back on each move, and how God miraculously provided for us at just the right time. Before Elijah was born, we lived with Matt’s parents. I was on bed rest, so his mom was helping me out with Nadine while I lived in their attic and kept busy trying to keep a little baby cooking as long as possible. When Elijah decided to come two months early, he spent five weeks in the NICU. That’s another story. A month after he came home, we moved to Honduras to live for five months. It was a huge highlight of our married life.
We lived in one room here, one room there, moving with the missionaries we were visiting, until we reached the island of Roatan, just off the Honduran coast. When we arrived, Matthew was literally puking his guts out from sea-sickness. The short ferry-ride to the island had done him in completely. While he threw up over the side of the deck, I was stuck below with both kids. No children were allowed on deck, and instead of having the support of my husband, I sat next to some wacko guy who told me stories about his fire-breathing tricks. It was a very tumultuous beginning.
When we moved into our own apartment, it was one room, with a small divider that separated the kitchen from the bedroom area. We rigged a curtain around Nadine’s bed, and Elijah started off in a suitcase before moving to a pack n’ play.
It was the magic pack n’ play, that literally fit in every space we ever needed it to fit. The legs fall off every time we put it up, but we still use it all the time at Grandma’s house.
That apartment had two burners in the kitchen, and a sink. That was it. I learned how to make homemade tortillas, and shrimp that could make your mouth dance. Lobster was like chicken, and we ate it every week. I made no-bake cookies a lot, and I really started to miss having an oven. Almost every day we would buy “pan dulce” (sweet bread) from a lady who came to know we would buy her delightful bread whenever she came knocking. We spent our days studying Spanish, swimming in the Caribbean, and praying about what we should do next with our lives. A very definite close in chapter was going on back home, and we were headed off to California that summer. So, in those few months, we read a lot, prayed a lot, and walked a lot! We had two sweet babies who were 13 months apart, and whom everyone thought were twins.
We walked to get our groceries, walked to check our email, walked to visit our friends. It was beautiful there. At night, when the kids were asleep, we would lock up the apartment, and walk down the pier of the motel and sit on the end, listening to the ocean below us and looking at the stars above us.
Then, one day, a family that was living in the one big apartment of the motel, moved back to the States. Matt asked the owner if we could live there instead. It was worked out, and we quickly packed up our bags and carried them up the stairs to the HUGE apartment. My favorite feature? The oven. I also loved the winding stairs that brought you up to the living room, and the windows that were everywhere so you could see the ocean. The bedroom was window-less, but housed a California King-sized bed in which I got lost every single night. The living room and bedroom were basically connected, but the kitchen was not seen from the bed room. The bathroom got so hot around mid-day that you had to dance while you peed so your feet wouldn’t burn! But I loved it there. I loved the crazy deck with completely unsafe measurements between the slats. I loved how you could watch a storm coming from miles away, and how I could hang my laundry to dry in the salty breeze.
Thankfully neither of my children ever fell from that deck. We would drag mattresses outside and play, while the ocean breezes kissed our faces. I would make pizza twice a week, just because I could. We also bought cheap chocolate cake mix and would sometimes make a whole cake in the oven and eat it for supper after the kids were asleep. The other huge blessing about that apartment was that our friends before us had rigged a satelite dish onto the roof where we could connect our laptop to the internet. No longer did we have to walk to the Yacht Club to check our email.
I felt like we lived the life of kings.
It was so much fun when my parents came to visit us for a week. We weren’t too homesick for anything American, but we did miss our family. Then something changed in our schedule that made us think it would be better to come home two weeks earlier than planned. We decided to only let my parents in on it, and to surprise everyone else. The day before we flew back to Pennsylvania was full of craziness. Nadine had a special little blanket that she called “Dee Dee”. For some odd reason, she decided to throw Dee Dee into the ocean. I was holding Elijah on the deck, so I yelled for Matt to go get it! I knew the next day of flying would be disastrous without it. So, he jumped in, clothes and all, to fetch Dee Dee from the sea. Since there were no dryers, we used a friend’s hair dryer to get it as dry as possible. Nadine loves to hear the story of Dee Dee in the sea.
Tonight I’m awed by the countless blessings God gave us, specifically during our short time in Roatan. I never knew how much I needed that time. After living a whirlwind two years of marriage, with two babies born during that time, and not living on our own for at least eight months, it was God’s perfect timing to give us some undivided family time to seek Him together. As I look back, I’m reminded in a fresh way about how God just loves to bless us with details. Like cake mixes and ovens and Dee Dee’s.