This autumn in Michigan has been absolutely gorgeous!!!!! The colors of the trees were astounding and we were glad to have been back in Michigan to see them. Life for the Kortmans has returned to the "normal" that we find a few weeks after settling into a new place no matter where in the world it happens to be.
This trip was a big thing. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way to me. Yes, some days I am hit square in the face with the enormity of what we undertook, but other days it just feels like regular life...no matter what country we happened to be in. However, I have learned that this trip was even bigger than I thought!
Before we left Portugal to come back to the US, I was able to spend time with each kid individually to discuss how they felt about the whole trip and about returning to the US. I was honestly floored by their observations and requests.
Alia initially didn't want to return to the US. After some gentle probing, I discovered that she was afraid that it meant a permanent return and no further traveling. She changed her mind only after I promised that, Lord willing, it would not be our last trip. Only then did she allow herself to be openly excited about coming back. She is my socialite that loves new experiences.
Josiah was very reserved at first to share his opinion. It came out in our discussion that he wanted to keep traveling but he wanted more for Daddy and Mommy to "get ok". He recognised that we could probably do that most easily back in Michigan and so he wanted to return. He confided that he didn't want to travel anymore if Daddy and Mommy weren't "ok". I assured him that we would not be leaving the US again unless we were as sure as we could be that all was well. Obviously comforted by this, he then said he really did want to keep traveling as long as mom and dad were alright. Going back to the US was a means to an end for him. This from my introvert that likes routine and is uber sensitive to change and upset.
My biggest surprise came from my 4 year old. Asking him about his experiences and desires, Thys was adamant about not returning to the US. He wanted to keep seeing new places and staying in different houses/apartments. He liked walking to the corner store for ice cream and going on exploring adventures every weekend. He simply liked the variety of travel. The same as Alia, when confirmed that we would most likely be going out on another trip he was then happy to return back to see grandparents and look forward to snow-time playing in the cold north country.
(Zander while cute, is too young to vote yet)
We left in March of 2014 and after 10 locations around the world we are residing back in Michigan for at least the next 8 months. One of our kids referred to our coming back to the US as "just the next stop" on our trip. The kids have adopted travel as a lifestyle with passion. They have embraced the positives and mourned the negatives (as have Paul and I). They have firmly set their course for seeing the every part of the world.
I never really allowed myself to believe that they would ALL want to continue traveling indefinitely. I expected that at least one of them would pine for the familiar enough to voice their opinion for the return to "normal" life. I think that I silently asked God to work in their little heart along these lines but I didn't know what He had planned and couldn't let myself hope it could be that good/easy.
God knew my heart even without my speaking it out loud. He knew Paul's heart too. He knew what was important to us and where our passions lie. And he knows our kids hearts... even better than we do since He made them. How reassuring and comforting. So, this trip WAS a big thing. It was big for me because God drew me to himself in a big way. He knit my kiddos hearts together with mine. He gave them a love for something I am passionate about. How beautiful is that?!?
"What now?" is usually the question we are asked. Well, we plan to use our time here as we would in any other country. Day-to-day life might look similar here as it did anywhere else. School lessons, work schedules/phone calls, meal planning, play time, church, new friends and weekend adventures.
So, you may not see posts as frequently for a while. But, that's just because our life probably looks fairly similar to yours right now. Rest assured we haven't abandoned this form of communication. We continue to tweak and change and post when we can.
Here's to autumn! Here's to another chapter! Here's to life!