I hesitated to post about our upcoming vacation because it goes against what some people think missionaries do. I decided to throw caution to the wind and continue the truthfulness about our lives. We have had a very full and stressful year, which is why my blog has been so quiet. Our winter (summer for those in the Northern Hemisphere) school break was spent working in overdrive, while making sure the kids were cared for. At one point Tim was doing three different managerial jobs within the IT department. At the same time Tara was helping debrief the first Discovery team, while making new arrangements after flight cancellations and delays for the second team that was coming in. We not only need a break for ourselves to prevent burn-out, but we need time to just be a family. I'm so grateful for a gift that was sent to us from one of our supporting Sunday School classes. It was designated as "vacation money." It removed any bit of hesitancy we had regarding our vacation. Our God is so faithful in every area.
In a week, we board a plane for our much needed family vacation! This will be the first time the rest of the family been out of PNG since we arrived in January 2012. When we lived in the States, we'd usually spend our vacation time in Florida visiting our friends and family. We'd throw in a couple of days to do something special while down there. Vacations had a different meaning for us because our family did not live close by. After joining Wycliffe, every vacation also involved some sort of work while we were raising our initial support to come to PNG. Don't get me wrong, this was our choice, and we enjoyed it. We managed to be able to mix things together to make the most of our time. That was life. Tim & I have an upcoming work trip that will allow us some time together, but that's for a different post.
We have all sorts of expectations for this upcoming vacation. There is one activity we all agree on- SHOPPING! (Yes, my Granny would be proud!) Our first full day in Cairns (pronounced "cans"), Australia, will be spent at one of the malls. Actually quite a bit of our time will be spent shopping. We'll visit exotic places like Target and Grocery stores (yes, in the mall!) and Crazy Clark's (think dollar store on steroids). Not only will we not have to prepare our own lunch, but we will have multiple choices for lunch. Each one of us could choose something different. PARADISE!!! I know, some of you, are thinking I've lost my mind. The rest of you know me too well, but you are wondering if I've brainwashed the rest of my family to willingly spend a day at the mall. The extent of any shopping my kids have done in the last 21 months is yard sales and our store. Neither present a lot of options. Tim and I have had a little more experience- a few second hand shops in the nearest town and some bulk grocery shopping in Goroka and Lae. None of this compares to what we will have available on our vacation. There was no brainwashing involved!
I have been downright giddy making my grocery list. I can put things on it like cereal, milk (in a jug), yogurt, bagels, BACON, frozen dinners, grapes, bacon, cantaloupe, sandwich meat, fancy bread, and did I mention bacon? These are things I can't get here in PNG. Well, I could buy cereal, but at $10 or more a box, I choose NOT to buy. The best part of this list isn't what is on it. Nope, it's the fact that I'll be able to get every single item on the list! In PNG, if we get more than half of the items on our list, it is considered a successful and rewarding trip.
We plan on doing some of the "normal" vacation stuff, too- going to the beach, enjoying the free touristy stuff (you'd expect anything else from an Ellis?), and even a day trip to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef. We have our lists- Christmas and birthday presents to buy, treats for ourselves, things we've run out of, and items our friends need us to bring back for them. The kids have money they've been earning. We've discussed what each of us would like to do. Each child has plans for their own date with mom and dad. And like a good Type A person, I have my spreadsheet of stores to visit and what to purchase at each store; a calendar of dates showing what we are doing each day; and Google directions and maps with everything marked. I also have given myself and my family the permission to change plans and "go with the flow". The only things that HAVE to happen are the eye appointments and grocery shopping on our first day. Shhh, we haven't told the kids, but we, also, plan to hit McDonald's our first night. The last time they enjoyed a greasy hamburger was on our way to PNG.
Yes, we have an incredible opportunity to enjoy another part of God's creation- the Land Down Under. We will get to experience the beach, mountains, amazing snorkeling, and, of course, the malls. I thank God for this opportunity. We realize that this might be the only trip outside of PNG until we head home for furlough in just over 2 years. We pray God will help us to make it an incredible memory for all of us!