When I was a young mom of two, my husband and I did something fairly crazy to most. We moved our family of four to a small island in the West Indies. My son was three years old and my daughter was two. It was the best and hardest thing I have ever done.
I remember when we told people we’d be moving to the island for a couple of years. Many people asked if we were taking the children with us. I really never could process this question or come up with a nice response. I generally wanted to retort: “No, we’re putting them up for adoption” because I think sarcastic thoughts like that. I guess this question was just representative of how far-fetched it was to some, this idea of moving away to a third-world country with your little babies.
Other people asked questions that revealed their ignorance of geography. (No judgement here…I’m no geography buff either.) Most people were blown away to know that we were going to an island where the spoken language had never been written down, and to hear us say that there were actually thousands more language groups around the world in that same situation.
All of these conversations served as a reminder that I was about to enter into an experience unfathomable to most. So strange that they didn’t know how to talk to me about it. And that when I returned, I wouldn’t really know how to talk to them about it either. They fumbled for words to make a connection with what we were doing, but it was hard for people to connect with.
And it was hard for some to understand what compelled us to want this for our family. They wondered if it was safe. They wondered what things we’d have to go without. They wondered how you write down a new language. They actually wondered all the things that I also wondered.
But unlike everyone else, I was able to set aside those “wonderings” and unknowns. I had a heart that was broken for a group of people across the seas. I had no doubt in my mind that my task and my mission for this season of life was to leave the comforts of home and live in a strange land.
A land that ranked among the poorest of countries. Where there was no clean water or hot water, no air conditioning, and lots of mosquitoes both inside and out. Where I’d have to hand wash the clothes and hang them out to dry. Where there were no convenience foods or restaurants nearby. Where we learned what it felt like to be in the minority, so very different from those around you.
A land where life moved at a much slower pace. Where families sit around the porch and talk together. Where my son and daughter became the best of friends because they didn’t have any. Where my husband and I truly learned to function as a team. Yes, it was the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done.
Leaving the familiar is hard but can often be very rewarding. What big move have you made and how did your family handle it?
You can read more stories about my island life here.