Sunday, March 30, 2014

Back Home

We left Amman on Valentine's Day to visit family in SC for three weeks. We decided to use our second R&R after we learned that Thomas's dad wouldn't have surgery as scheduled in January, because his tumors hadn't shrunk. (He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer early Summer 2013.) We thought it would be good to visit them the same time as Thomas's sister Priscilla and her husband Trevor, and have the whole family together, which is a rarity since they also live abroad. After a long trip we finally made it to Columbia and were glad to see my brother-in-law Jason and my dad at the airport around midnight. They helped us load everything into my parents' car, which they kindly lent to us for the duration of our stay.

Snoozing at the hotel in Columbia.

Saturday and Sunday we hung out at Thomas's parents' house in between letting the kids nap at the hotel. Monday afternoon Thomas's dad went into the hospital, he'd been poorly for a couple weeks and we thought he'd just get some help and then start more cancer treatments down at MUSC. Monday night Priscilla and Trevor arrived, and Tuesday morning we saw them at the house. We left to have the kids nap at the hotel with plans to visit Thomas's dad in the hospital later in the afternoon. About 3:30 Thomas got a call that we needed to come down to the hospital. We got there too late, Thomas's dad had already passed away.

It was such a shock. We didn't think it would happen, not that soon. Time felt like it stood still for a few days. Thomas helped his mom and sister with some of the arrangements, then the funeral was on Saturday. Seeing all the family who came in was really nice, despite the circumstances. The service was really worshipful and encouraging, Dr. Larkin was a strong believer and a humble servant of the Lord. It was amazing to see the number of former students, colleagues and friends who came and spoke to the family afterward. We stood in the receiving line for two and a half hours hearing about how much he meant to so many people. What a testimony to a life dedicated to teaching others how to know God and study His word. Read more about him here and here.

We spent another day in Columbia to visit with the family who were still around, then went to Aiken and stayed with my parents for five days. It was nice to get into a slower routine, but everything still felt a little surreal. We went back to Columbia for a little less than a week, stayed with my sister and her family again and tried to get in some good family time. I got to catch up with some girlfriends, which was great, and we made a point to eat as much delicious American food as possible.

Snuggling with Mom at Aunt Sarah's house.

At Mimi and Papa's house in Aiken.

Koalas at the zoo in Columbia!

We left after three weeks, and it was hard to say goodbye. I wasn't looking forward to the trip back, and knowing we wouldn't be back in the States for over a year made it even sadder. Hopefully Thomas can make it back if it's necessary. So, yeah. It was totally unexpected, but we're grateful for God's timing in allowing us to be home when everything happened. It's tough to be far away from Thomas's mom though, so please pray for her. We hope she'll come out and visit us, it would be wonderful to have her stay. (Hint, hint, Mom!)

The trip back was long, we had a short flight to Atlanta and then it was about 8 hours to Paris. We hung out there for about 6 hours, and took turns napping on the available benches. Benjamin passed out for a good while. He got a little sick on the plane to Amman, and that leg was definitely the worst. Everyone was overtired at that point. Thankfully we had an embassy driver who met us at baggage claim and helped us get through customs and out to the car. It was weird to be back "home", where our stuff lives, but also good to be back in the rhythm of everyday life. I'll try to be more proactive about posting stuff, especially pictures. The boys are getting bigger all the time!

Poor, tired buddy.


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