It's been almost a year in the making with the last few months being full of preparation, all leading up to the moment when we saw their tired but excited faces round the corner and exit the airport baggage claim. They are here: my younger brother Brian, his beautiful wife Josey, and their sweet little boy, Judah (plus one in the oven).
For me, one of the greatest difficulties in making the decision to move to a place like China was the realization that few, if any of our family and friends would be able to visit us and we had to accept the fact that some of our most important relationships would change, or at least have to survive on a different type of communication. So, when the possibility came up of Brian coming to Qingdao for his student teaching, we got pretty excited. Not only would that mean they would be able to come here to see this country and experience our day to day life, but they would be doing it for a long time. 69 days to be exact. 69 DAYS! In some ways I feel like we're right back home in the States, sharing birthdays and Christmas, Thanksgiving and Sunday afternoons after church.
For the last couple weeks leading up to their arrival, I had many last minute details to pull together. We live in a nice, spacious apartment (for China) that has three bedrooms and 1 plus 1 sort of bathroom (by that I mean that it also doubles as a laundry room/mud room and the shower head shoots water down directly onto the toilet). This is absolutely sufficient for our family of 5 but with adding two more adults and a 2.5 year old, there was some re-arranging that would need to be done. So after multiple bed swaps, and re-organizing of wardrobes, etc. we were ready to add another family to our home.
Riley and Ari had been watching it seems. They had their own list of preparations to make which included making messages to tape to the outside of our door to be opened upon the Miller's arrival, making name tags for the doors so they could find out where to sleep, brainstorming about "arrival plans" which included "quiet time instead of showing them all the stuff we made for them so they can just RELAX," and of course, telling literally every human body they came into contact with that their "favorite wrestler" was coming to visit. Most people became somewhat surprised and intrigued, perhaps expecting that the latest WWF wrestler was coming to Qingdao for a tour. When it was realized that Riley was merely referring to "Uncle Brian," their interest understandably waned.
They are here, and we are thoroughly enjoying having the extra laundry, longer grocery lists, and early morning wake up calls. Hopefully they are enjoying the three extra kids to antagonize Judah, the severe shortage of western food, and the serious lack of personal space. I'm trying to convince Josey to do a "guest blog" while she is here, where you might be able to hear more of how they are faring. For now, 11 days into it, we are feeling blessed and grateful for a rare and unique time with family, and I'm pretty sure we'll be saying the same when the next 58 days comes to an end.