I talked to my brother this afternoon and I need to say something.
Stephen is very brave.
Last Monday, he hopped on a plane and moved to Saudi Arabia.
Yes, that Saudi Arabia.
Stephen and his lovely wife, Kelsie, have wanted to travel overseas for many years now and finally, finally have the opportunity to do so through Stephen’s work. So they sold all but 1,500 pounds of their earthly belongings and prepared to go. Then they flew from Washington State back to Pennsylvania two weeks ago, Stephen left Monday, and Kelsie and the kids hang out until they can join him in a few months when their visa paperwork goes through. (That means, of course, that Kelsie is very brave, too. I am in awe of her!)
But I’ll admit it: I’m not very happy about this whole situation.
My brother and I are only 20 months apart–he’s older, though I’ve been bigger than him for most of our lives–and we’ve always been pretty close. Granted, for the last 12 years we’ve lived in different states but he’s still my big brother.
And my friend.
And different states is not the same thing as different countries, cultures, hemispheres, even if we will be able to Skype on a regular basis.
I’ll confess that it makes me sad and anxious and somewhat annoyed that they’re so far away from family. That is, that they’re so far away from Little Bean. And, let’s face it, from me. It’s mostly selfish of me, I realize this, but he’s my brother. I’ll miss him.
And I’ll probably continue to be anxious about it, because he’s by himself for the next few months until Kelsie and the kiddos get over there.
And then I’ll probably still be anxious about it because that’s just the way I am.
But I feel a little bit better now that I talked to him.
Because my brother is very brave.
In the few short minutes we got to chat, he told me about some of the people he’s met so far–folks from South Africa, Ireland, Australia. It’s quite a little melting pot where he is living and working. He told me about some of the food he’s been eating, about going to Subway (yes, the restaurant) and them not serving any pig/pork/ham products in any of the menu options. He told me about walking around his housing complex with his iPad desperately trying to find an open wifi connection to no avail. About how you need residency permits to be given a SIM card for cellular phone access, but that you can buy them from janitors. (I may have misunderstood this point, but I think that’s what he said.) He told me about there not being female bathrooms in his office building because the entire workforce is male. About how crazy the drivers are and that even on major roadways, they pretty much ignore the lines painted on the asphalt. About how much his American accent stands out among this hodgepodge community in which he now finds himself.
I’m pretty excited to learn more about his community and this exciting journey his family is beginning. I’m guessing some of that will bleed over here onto Texas Schmexas occasionally, so stay tuned.
And, my praying friends, if you think of Stephen and Kelsie and the wee ones in the coming months, say a little prayer for them. It’s a huge transition, all scary and exciting balled into one. It will take a lot of courage and grace and wisdom and peace.
And even brave people can use a little bit of prayer.
We all can.
PS You can read more about Stephen’s journey on their family blog, Wherever You Go.