Then we arrived. We were greeted by friends (more family than friends). We stayed at their house. We had the team over (90% whom we already know and love) and they threw a birthday party for Ty. We had cake and sang and blew out a candle. We went out to dinner with a friend of their family's who is Belgian-whom we also have come to know. We drove in town and shopped at the little store. All this was normal. We have done this before.
Then we moved to our "own" little apartment. Teammates are home for a few months so we have moved into their place while we settle in and find our own housing. We had to file our paperwork with the local city hall to start the residency process, to validate our visas. That has to be done in the local language you know. So we went, with an amazing friend, and stood there smiling and looking pretty while she and the nice lady talked about us. It's quite awkward in case you were wondering! We have been driving out to a few villages where housing seems a bit cheaper and it won't be quite so far from the school we are hoping to get the kids into. We call and email about houses then have our friends pass along messages because we don't even have phones yet to receive the calls back. We struggle to hear the various vowel sounds and repeat them back self-consciously, knowing we sound not at all close. That's how you start with language though...Our bodies are tired. Our minds are tired. Our emotions are tired. All are in overdrive and yet we feel like we don't know what we get done each day.
And through this all, our dear friends remind us-this is normal. Perhaps it's good we have not exactly had a very "normal" last few years. I would think it would make this feel a bit more familiar-this transition and upheaval and displacement. Right now though, not much of anything feels normal. However, we are doing well. We are healthy. We have taken some time as a family to laugh and play and sit and have a drink at a cafe and go to a park and eat Belgian chocolate...the list goes on. We are learning phrases. J is learning to write in script like he'll need for school. The kids are learning to introduce themselves. And one day at a time, actually one hour at a time, we move forward. Sloooooooowly it seems. But this is normal. So for tonight, that's what I'm remembering! Tomorrow morning when we go back to the nice lady at city hall with no solution to one of the many circular problems with starting paperwork, it certainly will feel anything but normal!