Two months ago I made a list. Somedays I worked like a dog to get everything done. Other times I kinda petered out and forgot about the list for a day or so because I was tired and had other things to do.
The time flew by and the list got shorter but never quite done.
Then it was simply days until the deadline. 5 days, 3, days and then….2 days.
The final two days we painted, hung signs, washed bedding, cleaned all the pets that live in our house, made signs and so much more.
Then the day was here. We all loaded up in the van and drove in the pouring rain to the airport.
We unfurled our big sign and waited while people walked around us, some smiling as they read the sign and others just rushing past to get to their own families.
And finally we saw her. The girl we had seen only in pictures and one brief video chat but that we had come to love.
She was here! Our foreign exchange student from Mongolia had arrived.
And somehow she fit into our family immediately.
Since she arrived our kids have talked with her nonstop. They’ve braided hair, done nails, played games, spent time drawing and just getting to know each other. There’s already plans for bike riding after school on Monday.
Our community of friends have rallied around her. She was greeted at church this morning before she even walked in the door with a friend telling her that she was so happy that she had finally arrived and was with us. Her church small group leader from Sunday morning has already texted her and friended her on Facebook.
Our neighbor’s teen daughter came over to introduce herself and spent an hour upstairs laughing and talking about the school that they will both attend this year. Somewhere in that discussion it was discovered that our exchange student had never been on a trampoline. So out the door they all went and straight to the trampoline to jump and laugh harder.
And yet if we go back in time, even in the excitement of time preparing for her arrival, in the final moments before we parked at the airport I had a few moments of “what if things don’t go well?”. What if she didn’t get along with us or what if she couldn’t get over her fear of dogs and love our pets as we do?
But we have already learned so much about Mongolia and the extra plate at dinner tonight just seemed right. Not only are we sharing our foods and watching her experience some of our favorites such as broccoli cheddar soup, we’ve sampled some traditional Mongolian foods that her parents sent for us. There’s no words to describe the joy of seeing her discover simple things that we take for granted.
Simple things such as a dishwasher, having your own bedroom, the sand that borders the brown waters of our local river, the size of the houses here, and strawberries bigger than your pinky finger have amazed her.
I almost want to write it all down so that at the end of this year before she gets back on the plane to fly to her Mongolian home, I can show it to her and she can see how far she’s come.
The what ifs have been silenced by wonder, joy and thankfulness for the small things that are being brought to our eyes once again.
It’s going to be a great year.