Some of my favorite posts have been from the “not me” blog meme started long ago by Mckmama.
Not me is just a fun way to write out all the crazy things that happened in a day. Things that you could say, “Ugh, that did NOT just happen!”
So, as you know, we have recently made another continental move and are now residing in West Africa.
How does one move to Africa?
Well, let me share that 24 hours of our lives in vivid, not me detail.
Because there were more not me moments than I can count.
If it could happen, it DID happen.
And at the end of it all… I will explain the title of this post.
It might take a bit to get there. But get there we will.
So on August 11th, Jeremy left early in the day to take the train to Charles De Gualle airport so he could pick up our rental truck and drive it back to our apartment so we could load it with our 25 bins and suitcases.
While he was gone, I did not call the airline for the 5th time to confirm our flights only to be told for the 1st time that if we checked in that night, we could have 1 free overweight bag per person.
I did not get excited about that deal only to realize that we were all done packing. And I wasn’t going to redo it just to make some heavier.
But because we had 2 overweight bags anyway, I did not call Jeremy, tell him about the deal with our check in and decide that we should go to the airport early for check in.
We did not have to scramble to get loaded, check out of our apartment, get back to the airport and find a hotel deal last minute to get our 2 free overweight bags.
By the time we left the apartment, I did not make the decision to wait to eat dinner until we were through Paris traffic. It was getting late and we did not want to be stuck on the highway for hours.
That decision did not cause me to buy a few waters and snickers bars and a tube of pringles at a gas station because there were no restaurants by the airport. Just IN the airport.
Once we drove in to the airport, we did not get confused, not know where to drop off our things or park our rental van while we unloaded our 25 pieces of luggage. Our confusion did not cause us to circle the airport 4 times while we read signs and navigated the arrival check in terminal. Our circling did not put us over on rental van miles.
After finally finding where we could park and beginning to unload, we did not realize that it was going to be quite the ordeal to get us down to the early check in desk. I did not grab (at Jeremy’s urging) Elayna, her and I both with a fully loaded luggage cart and head for the front doors, leaving Jeremy to finish unpacking and deciding how we were going to manage three girls AND luggage AND a rental van in 10 minute parking.
I did not enter the airport, find the elevator, go down 1 floor, find the Brussels Airlines desk only to find a person who said I was in the wrong terminal. I did not walk with this person, go back to the elevators before realizing that said person was NOT an airport employee. I did not realize that he was scamming me and wanting money for his “help”. I did not grab Elayna again, her and I both with our fully loaded luggage carts, go back upstairs, find an official employee and ask where the early check in desk was only to find out that I was in the right place back down stairs.
We did not go back downstairs, and find the same desk only to see a HUGE line forming of people with just as many bags/bins as us. I did not walk to the front of the line, ask in French if they were waiting for early check in only to be answered by a man in English telling me that yes, this was the line. He did not walk with me to the back of the line and proceed to tell me that I needed to have each bag wrapped in saran wrap. To realize that he was “helping” me for money.
I did not call Jeremy, tell him of our fiasco and then send Elayna by herself back up the stairs, out the door and back to Jeremy to help him and the little girls enter the airport and find the line I was in with the rest of our luggage.
I did not see my family, 4 big Goodwin smiles, trailing in together with 4 more fully loaded luggage carts (that makes 6 total if you are counting them) and our little red wagon which was hauling our carry ons.
At that point, seeing the line, Jeremy and I did not decide that he should leave and return the rental van so we didn’t have to worry about it in the morning. Which, if you are counting, did not leave me alone with 3 girls, a wagon and six luggage carts to manage.
I did not tell Elayna to stand with our carts, grab Annalise and Abby, find an open spot in a sitting area in my line of vision and tell the little girls to NOT MOVE from the red wagon. for any reason.
I did not go back and join Elayna in line, keeping the other two girls in sight, to help her with our 6 carts because the line had started moving.
I did not get to the front of the line, explain that Jeremy wasn’t there yet and then be allowed to continue on in line to where the desk was located. All with 6 carts. Heavy carts… about 200-250 lbs a piece.
Imagine the long, twisty, turny airport check in lines.
And 6 carts.
I am sure it wasn’t funny to watch. at all. Moving on…
I did not get to the front of the line, feel utter relief that I was about to unload our 25 bins to the airport staff only to be told that, yes, I could check in but that she would weigh each bin at her desk but then I would have to lug each one, individually through 6 other lines of people and over to a door where men in construction vests would take them from me. 50lb bins. 6 lines of people. Just me and Elayna.
Yep. Me and Elayna.
The lady at the counter did not ask where my husband was and how long it would be until he arrived.
I did not just keep repeating, to her and to myself, “Il arrive.” which means “He is coming.”
I did not begin the painstaking process of unloading each bin onto the scale and then reloading it onto a cart for Elayna to walk over the the men who would then put it on a truck for the airplane the next morning.
I did not overhear an airport staff person come up to the desk, and in French explain that an unattended bag was found in the airport pharmacy. I did not pray that my French was bad and I really didn’t understand her correctly.
I did not feel thrilled when I saw a big Goodwin smile heading towards me. Jeremy did not go get the little girls and the wagon, bring them up to me and start helping with the luggage. I did not have to explain the crazy, insane check in process to him multiple times because it was just so not normal.
Just as we were working on our 15th bin for check in, the police did not come around yelling for all to evacuate the airport. The airport staff did not simply vacate the check in desks and promptly leave the airport. Leaving us half checked in.
We did not scramble to get our last 10 bins back on carts, get the girls and the wagon and leave the area only to find that no one was really leaving the airport… because there wasn’t anywhere to go on the level we were on!
We did not stand with a crowd of people for 20 minutes, still IN the airport, in which the entire time Annalise had to desperately use the bathroom, only to be let back in to the check in area of the airport.
We did not return to the front of the line, send the girls to the closest bathroom, continue our check in only to realize that I needed to go to ANOTHER desk to pay for the 5 extra bags we had. I had not tried to pay for them all over the phone, as recommended only to be told that I couldn’t prepurchase them ALL… 5 had to be done at the airport. At a different desk. I did not arrive at that desk, have the girl get mad because the extra bags slips were incorrectly filled out, explain that the check in lady was filling them out during the bomb scare, wait for her to call the other desk, have her double charge me and have to redo the entire transaction, have a huge line form behind me because it was taking so long, get back to the check in desk and finish our check in… only to have the lady at the check in desk see our red wagon full of carry ons, shake her head and tell us that our carry ons must weigh in TOTAL per person only 12 kilos… we were not SO over that.
I did not realize in the midst of all of that that it was 8:30PM and none of us had eaten anything. other than Abby and Annalise who had devoured the whole can of pringles while we were busy checking in.
So we did not take our hungry, tired, exhausted, sore selves over to the McDonalds across the hall and eat our last meal in France.
After eating, we did not find our shuttle and get to the airport around 10:30pm. I did not let the girls fall into bed in their clothes and without brushing their teeth so they could get as much sleep as possible due to the fact that we needed to leave the airport at 5:15am.
Upon waking up, I did not absolutely, positively RELISH my last, long, wonderful HOT shower at the hotel, knowing in Africa hot/long showers would be rare.
I did not wake the girls up a few minutes early so they could shower too.
We did not make it downstairs for the shuttle right on time only to find 2 other families waiting before us. Which meant we were on a later shuttle than we wanted to be. And, I did not once again not have anything for my family to eat, thinking we could get something at the airport.
We did not get to the airport, find a vending machine before the train to our terminal, buy some snickers… again… for breakfast and make our way to terminal 1 for our flight.
Insert HEART STOPPING MOMENT RIGHT HERE.
Are you ready?
We did not step off the train at our terminal right on time only for me to realize that my trusty family folder (see Tips for Moving Overseas) was MISSING.
MISSING. GONE. NOT IN MY HANDS.
Our folder with passports, medical information, birth certificates, social security cards, immunization records… MISSING.
Heart stopped yet? Mine was surely NOT. wait it was.
Sweating, shaking, nauseous… that was not me standing there wanting to sink into the floor with complete dread.
I looked at Jeremy. Remember my post about family stress? This was one of those moments. Literally our WHOLE lives were in that folder. He said, “What do we need to do?”
I said, “Go. Get on the train. Go retrace our steps. I’ll call the hotel.”
I did not replay the morning in my head… and I did not draw a complete blank as to the last time I saw that folder. I realized that I’d gotten up early to go to the girls room and get them in the showers while Jeremy dressed and packed up the red wagon with our carryons. I’d never had it in my hands that morning. So I didn’t even think about looking for it. until then.
DREAD. PRAYER. Prayer and more prayer… the girls were not sitting on the bench next to me praying out loud.
I did not call the hotel, ask in a shaky, scared voice for him to call the shuttle driver to see if it was on the shuttle, have him call me back to say the shuttle driver did not have it, ask the hotel guy to go up to our room and look for it, have him come back and say it wasn’t there, ask him if he checked our other room (5 people need TWO hotel rooms in France), have him go back up to the other hotel room (insert MORE DESPERATE PRAYING AND SICKNESS) and have him finally, after 5 painstakingly slow, heart wrenching minutes to tell me HE HAD MY FOLDER!!!!!
The shuttle was not about to take off again for the airport and I did not nearly shout at the man to get the folder to the driver so he could bring it to Jeremy at the airport who was waiting at the shuttle drop off to receive the folder.
My heart slowly started beating again… and the girls and I did not make our way to the check in desk, realize we can’t check in without Jeremy… or passports… and stand in wait for him to return. 20 minutes later, upon seeing that Goodwin smile once again, I did not fall to the floor in greatfullness that God had so quickly and easily returned our folder and saved us from a magnitude of trouble for loosing it.
Because of our early check in, we did not get to by-pass the big line and just go straight to the check in counter. We did not find out, upon checking in, that our bags were possibly all coded wrong and their records were slightly wrong as to how many bags we had checked in. I did not start praying that God would stick our bins together like glue so they would all arrive together and in one piece. I did not ask for free check in of some of our overweight carry ons… only to be told that because we were at the maximum of checked bags, she wasn’t allowed to check any more. I did not resolve myself to possibly have to go through our bags and throw away half of it to get it under weight for the airplane boarding.
Because of the folder fiasco and the check in troubles, we were not late getting through security, Abby did not have a water bottle in her carry on that I didn’t know about, and we did not board the plane nearly last.
We did not scrounge up room for all of our carry ons, say a prayer of thanks that the staff didn’t make us unpack them all, and find our seats.
I did not snap this picture, think that we were leaving only to have the pilot come on and say that the plane had to sit there for 40 minutes due to trouble at our connecting airport.
Jeremy did not promptly take a nap.
I did not sit there staring at our passports in complete thankfulness that I had them in my hands. (the red dot meant we had early check in)
We did not finally make it to Belgium, make a bathroom stop, buy some coffee and breakfast because we were ALL starving again, get on our next plane only to find out that it was delayed too.
We did not land in Senegal and walk smack into a wall of thick humidity.
And, I did not walk smack onto a piece of gum either. And it didn’t get all over my sandal causing me to scrape it off while carrying heavy carryons.
I did not snap this picture of us in the airport, slowly but surely collecting each and every one of our bins.
I did not exclaim that it was clearly the prayers of people, YOUR prayers, and the powerful, wonderful nature of our God that we were all standing there in that moment.
I did not post this on facebook only to find out that it is quite heavily frowned upon to take pictures in the airport.
We did not collect all of our bins just as a massive line was forming to exit the airport. Each bag needed to be scanned one more time before leaving the airport. I did not grab Abby and the wagon and a luggage cart, make my way to the back of the line, then when we got to the front where Jeremy was waiting with the rest of our carts, hold the line back so he could cut in line with all the other carts… only to have security take pity on us and allow us to pass through without scanning all of our bags.
I did not leave the airport with Abby and my cart only to hit an immediate pot hole in the sidewalk and promptly tip over my entire cart of bins causing them to fall dramatically to the ground around me. I did not have a Senegalese man push me aside, grab the cart, re-load my bins and help me to where our team members were waiting at the end of a long, gated pathway.
We did not load all of our things into 3 vehicles and make our way 2 hours to our rented home.
I did not make Jeremy get out in the road and let me take this picture of him… because it truly was a good day to do something that he has been meaning to do for a very, very long time. 27 years in fact.
And after all of that, we did not enter our home, get a quick tour, eat a small dinner at 10:30pm (which was 12:30am the next day to us in Paris time), have a powwow with our girls as they cried tired tears, pray over everything and collapse exhausted into bed.
As I laid in bed that night, listening to goats and the call to prayer, and thought over the many, many not me moments… I truly and clearly thought, “It really was NOT me.”
I could not have done any of that. I am not strong enough, smart enough, capable enough, good enough, resilient enough to go through any of that.
How does someone move their family to Africa? Certainly not by themselves. It is certainly NOT them. It sure wasn’t me. or Jeremy.
It was God.
God walking, helping, guiding, protecting, enabling, strengthening and leading every single step of the way.
It was you, our precious support team, praying for us along the way.
Because on my own, I would have flown back to America. No doubt in my mind.
I would not have moved my family here. I wouldn’t have been able to do it. None of it. The first obstacle would have caused me to back down. I promise.
So, you see, it really wasn’t me… it was Christ IN me.
His hand. His work. His glory. All to make His Name known in the nations.
Truly, none of it was me.