“We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will, therefore, draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork, you must make a decision.”
C. S. Lewis
No surprises here, the job was offered and we accepted! I would not be writing this blog if that wasn’t the case. Although we pursued the job opportunity, it was still a big decision to make. So here’s what happened after our trip to Jakarta (and Taipei).
I was grateful for our day in Taipei to turn my brain off and just be. We enjoyed ourselves, seeing great sights and eating great food.
After a 14-hour flight home, we unpacked and crashed. My mom brought the kids home the next day and it was so great to see them. Although I didn’t ever worry about my kids while we were apart, as a parent, you never really stop thinking about them. Distance makes the heart grow fonder for sure… until the whining starts, then you’re not so sure 😉
Both of us felt our few days in Jakarta had gone well. While there we were barraged with information, people, sights, sounds and smells. It was great to get a realistic picture of what living there would be like and what M’s role would look like. I was there as part of the interview process as well. At this level, there is a lot of responsibility and it is important for a couple to be on the same page, be able to communicate well and when moving your family to the other side of the world, we all need to be on board. I even had my own interview without M in the room. They were mostly about myself and the kids and how we felt about making a move like this. Phew, I could handle that.
In seven years as the wife of a principal who navigated some pretty stressful situations, I discovered (and still am) how I could be a supportive wife to my husband. It was not always obvious, or easy and there were plenty of days when I was entirely selfish. But we worked through it, learning to communicate effectively, learning what each other needed and how to give those things. This isn’t unique to our marriage though, this is part of any marriage. You’re constantly learning things about your spouse and yourself, life changes and you have to figure out how to move with those changes. You and your spouse change and you have to stay on top of those subtle movements for that relationship to flourish. I’ve heard that throughout a marriage it’s as if you’ve married 3-5 different people. I think that may be a bit extreme, maybe just different versions or manifestations of the same person. I know I’m not the same person as I was 13 years ago and neither is M. I’d like to think we’re better and stronger in many ways. I know I’m better for the encouragement M has poured into me about who I am and what I do, always supporting me to be independent and to go after my goals, especially when I have doubted myself. Okay, enough ranting about marriage. All that to say that we’re a team, we have to be on the same page for this move to work, and I’m glad we are.
So, back to when we got home…We were told that they would contact us with their decision a few days after we arrived home. The next few days were not spent in agony wondering what the verdict would be, pacing around our house, biting our fingernails, unable to focus on much of anything. We had peace that God had things worked out, whichever way it went, the same peace we had when M left his previous job, the same peace that carried us through a time of great transition and healing. By Tuesday we had an email inviting M to take the role as Head of School. It took about another week to get all the details of the contract, so we waited until we had all of these before making our final decision. We spoke with family, friends, and our pastors seeking their support in praying for this monumental choice. We prayed and discussed.
What was going through our minds during this time? Let’s start with the cons:
- Our Family. All of our immediate family lives close by, within a half hour drive of our house. Some of our kids’ very best friends are their cousins. How can we think about taking them away from that? Or from their loving grandparents?
- Kids Friends. Our kids go to a great school where they have made, what I hope to be life-long friendships. What parent doesn’t hope for their kids to have great friendships? That prayer was answered many times over. And I have even gained friends in their parents!
- Our friends. We are not exceptionally social people. If not careful, we easily become hermits, but we have maintained friendships with some amazing people. Some have been mine since I was four years old, some, not quite that long, but just as special.
- Our neighbourhood. We moved into our house six years ago this May. It’s the only home our kids know. We have experienced community here as we were welcomed by neighbours from day one. They have loved our kids and shared life with us. Our kids have friends next door on both sides now and spend many hours playing together inside and out.
- My work. I spent six years at home with my kids. We decided to do this to maintain sanity at home, to keep it as a place of peace and were very blessed to be able to do this. During that time I was able to maintain a role as a contract facilitator for a team building company and have worked in their office as the need arose and time allowed. In the last few years, with both kids in school much more, I started volunteering in our Sunday School ministry at church, helping to coordinate lessons and teachers. Then I joined our church staff part-time as the Safe Place Coordinator, reviewing, creating and enforcing policy around keeping our kids, volunteers and staff safe from abuse. It has been rewarding to be able to serve God using the skills he blessed me with. I have felt challenged in so many ways and to have had something to call my own. It felt like I was just getting started and I didn’t want to leave either of my very flexible jobs. I also babysit my two-year-old neighbour and will miss her (and her family) dearly.
- Church. We have experienced a really great community in our church, where we have both found ways to connect and to serve. Our church has been a place where we have been able to heal from past hurts and to thrive under Biblical teaching.
- Our yard. We may not have the yard of my dreams, but we have made what we have ours. I love to garden (thanks Mom!) and to have a comfortable outdoor space to call my own. I’ll have to leave that and will only have a small balcony.
- The city. I’m not a city girl and we’re in the thick of it in a city of over 10 million people. We will be stretched.
That was a lot of cons, yikes. Here are the pros:
- The job. The job M applied for will utilize the skills and gifts that he has been given and has nurtured over the years. It presents ways for him to use those and for him to be challenged and grow. He is excited about it like he hasn’t been about any other opportunity.
- The community. During the search for a new job, we both agreed that if we were to move, it needed to be a big move. I’m not sure why we felt that way because either way, we would need to start over. However, it is so comforting to know that we won’t be starting from scratch at SPH. There is a community of expats who have gone through a similar transition, are able to share what they’ve learned along their path and are ready to welcome us to the clan.
- Where we will live. We will be living in an apartment complex with about 14 other expat families who work at the same school, so we’ll be close physically and there will be kids for ours to play with. The compound we will live in is safe, has two pools, a gym, a spa and roads that our kids can ride bikes on. We intend to get well acquainted with the pools. There is also a huge mall attached to the school and a western grocery store just down the street.
- The temperature. (angels singing) No more winter! The average temperature in Jakarta is 30 degrees Celsius. Think, the hottest summer days in Niagara, humidity and all. I’ll take it! (M isn’t quite as excited about this as I am.)
- Travel. From Jakarta, we can travel easily to many Southeast Asian countries as well as the 17 000 islands belonging to Indonesia. We’re so excited to become travelers and expose the world to our kids, I mean, our kids to the world.
- Life changing. This will be life-changing for all of us, but especially our kids. We hope they gain resiliency and a better understanding of how big and diverse the world is. We hope they gain a hunger for learning through experience, that they understand that our western way isn’t necessarily the right or best way and that they gain empathy for others who are different in the places they find themselves. There’s so much more I’m sure God has in store for the kids and for Mark and I that we can’t begin to imagine yet.
There is much more, but I think I may have lost some readers already with this lengthy post. I’ll keep you updated about more pros and cons as they come up.
There really was no ‘aha’ moment where we were praying together and suddenly heard God’s voice saying, ‘this is my will for you, go for it.’ It was more like, we kept talking as if we were going and ‘when we’re there’. We had this peace and confidence, we had encouragement from family and friends and even the biggest reasons for not taking the job weren’t something we could justify as a good reason to not make the move. So, when wondering when we would make our decision, we realized we already had made it. I’m pretty sure I had made it before M even applied for the job.
I’ve lived a fairly slow-paced, minimal adventure kind of life, content with the life we’ve been gifted. Yet, I know that we grow stronger through difficulty, and challenge. We don’t know our own limits if we don’t move towards them and we don’t push and move those limits if we don’t challenge them. God has not promised us an easy life. We don’t like being uncomfortable and usually do everything we can to avoid it. However, every time in my life that I have been pushed beyond my comfort and perceived limits, I have found myself stronger for it, finding strengths and abilities I didn’t realize I had and having grown closer to God and stronger in faith. I look forward to pushing outside of my comfort zone and being able to do it with my family. I look forward to giving our kids opportunity to stretch and be uncomfortable and to expand their view of the world. I look forward to being part of a community whose purpose is to educate children and share the love of God with them.
Yay! We’re moving to Jakarta! God has provided. We look forward to the journey ahead and are glad we get to share with you along the way.
“Some of our important choices have a timeline. If we delay a decision, the opportunity is gone forever. Sometimes our doubts keep us from making a choice that involves change. Thus an opportunity may be missed.”
James E. Faust