Maria: "I really wonder what the house looks like especially to evaluate the accommodations for my dreamed of visit."
Me: Pictures forthcoming! We definitely have a decent guest room (a.k.a.: Janae's room) for anyone who's interested in making the trip across the pond! We'd be thrilled to have the company! So start making your plans.
Maria: "Also what I didn't get much info on from the blog is how my friend is really doing. How's the transition?"
Me: The transition is mostly working itself out. That's just it about transition, isn't it? It takes a little time. A.J. is in school and attending early morning seminary. So, he's pretty settled by now. But the girls aren't quite in school yet, have a meeting with a head teacher this morning actually. So keep your fingers crossed. I think it may be until late October or November before we're really feeling in any sort of groove here.
Maria: "Is Jason traveling a lot?"
Me: Yes. In fact, he just returned from a 12 day trip to the U.S. This isn't typical, I think he'll only have to do that twice a year, but it sure was a bit of a long trip for all of us. In general, his travel is similar to how it was in the U.S. But now instead of going to Denver, St. Louis, Kansas City, or Salt Lake City, he's off to Amsterdam, Prague, Paris, Vienna, places like that. I think he's really enjoying all the new experiences.
Maria: "What's the worst stress, biggest adjustment, loneliest time, and biggest worry?"
Me: Ok, a bit of a loaded question(s), but setting up house was a big stress for a while. Now it's finding school's. The biggest adjustment has to be grocery shopping and making food. It's so frustrating to make a shopping list and have such a difficult time finding the items on it! Grocery stores are so different here. They just value different types of items. For example, there are like two aisles of potato chips, aisle and aisles of bacon and other meat, oh and so much cheese and baked goods. But you won't find many cereals to choose from, and don't even get me started on missing the fixings for anything Mexican (such a pity). And then there's the problem of items having different locations or different names altogether. Example, sugar? Not with baking items, it's in the coffee and tea aisle. Now that makes sense once someone points it out to you, but who would have thought it? No Karo or Corn Syrup, but they have "golden syrup" or "Treacle" (that's dark corn syrup)? And you will NOT find maple syrup! I could go on and on. I'll make a food post maybe in the next couple of months to share more. I think it's fascinating. Frustrating!
Loneliest time? I'm not sure? I used to tell Jason I feel most homesick when I have to go grocery shopping. It was just so difficult. Imagine grocery shopping with zero name brand recognition. Like I'm stuck there just reading every label to figure out what everything is and to determine what it is I'm trying to find. Note: thank goodness it's in English. I can't imagine doing this in a different country! I am anxious to make a friend too. So hopefully once these kids get in school and I get to begin to conjure up a resemblance of a normal life, maybe I'll get out there and make some friends. Lucky for me though, I haven't been too down, the weather has been nice. The sun is still shining. I'm so nervous about the upcoming months! This is my biggest worry!
Maria: "And what about your new church?! Is it a warm haven?"
Me: Well that's a good question. Church here is so different and wonderfully the same. That's the beauty of a worldwide organization. The demographics of the ward are very, very different. It is culturally very diverse with much African and Caribbean influences. Economically? I'm not sure how diverse it is, it's just totally different than the affluence that we all are surrounded by in the Lovejoy area. The size of the congregation is much, much, smaller too. So our church back home had a HUGE youth group of who knows how many kids? 80? Here there maybe 15 on a good day. Also the commitment to the gospel here in general doesn't seem as strong. I am not suggesting that their faith isn't strong, but the work side of church is I think affected by the diversity I just mentioned. It's hard to make every meeting a priority if paying for transportation is difficult, right? Maslow's Hierarchy!
In the same breath, it is exactly how you say, it IS a warm haven! People are happy and excited to welcome us into the ward here. And when we attend church we partake of the sacrament and renew our commitment to follow Christ in the exact same, perfect way we do it back home. Our Sunday School lesson is the exact same. The spirit touches our hearts as we learn of Christ, in the exact same way. For all these reasons, we LOVE church here and anywhere we visit.
Maria: "Give every Tucker you see a big hug, an extra sweet one for you and a huge smooch for Jaxon."
Me: Well that's not a question, but I'd love to return her sentiments to all y'all! We love you and miss you. Wish we could give each of you big hugs right now.
Do plan your trips soon! Send me an email, and I'll let you know what our calendar's are like. But really, we're pretty open for y'all! firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this may have answered some of your questions too! Thanks Maria for the jumpstart!