we’ve seen some momentum over the past several months. the youth retreat in january had a better turnout and the kids had fun and hopefully also learned something! the middle schoolers especially interact really well together despite being very different, and we are fortunate not to have any bullies or kids who alienate others. there’s a lot of diversity in upbringing and family structure which can make things interesting and sometimes challenging.
after an initial adjustment, emi and malachi have developed a quick bond. he collapses in giggles when she talks to him, pulls her hair or rips her paintings to pieces while shrieking in excitement, and she’ll sigh and gently tell him “no, malachi”. despite his destructive tendencies, she is patient with him and loves to help feed him or climb into the crib and play with him in the mornings.
recently, we’ve noticed just how much expats crave community. everyone is away from family, outside their comfort zone, stand out as a foreigner, and in some ways it’s easier to make friends because everyone is looking for friends. people love the opportunity to get together which has been lacking at our church, so they recently started meeting as small groups in different parts of the city which we hope will help to build a stronger community. we’ve gotten to know some people better, and some new families have moved down here, which has been so awesome after feeling pretty isolated in our first year.
our initial commitment ends next august! ideally, we would like to stay a couple more years. we really love living here, but the distance from both sides of the family is too much. we’re looking at 29 hours of just flight time to malaysia right now, which may not be as bad if we weren’t also at least 12 hours from the US. we also need to figure out schools for em, but the process is competitive and expensive. decision making is always difficult, especially when one of you is a big dreamer and the other is indecisive and sees pros and cons in everything, so we’ve been trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to narrow down our options and figure out what our next steps are.