As we started to think through the logistics of a move back to Texas, our minds went into a hyper speed where coherent thought and speech became nearly impossible. It reminds me of the time Cameron and I watched an internet-downloaded version of Planet of the Apes. Because it was downloaded, the subtitles didn’t transfer. We watched that whole movie trying to figure out what the Apes were saying when they grunted. We mostly had to make our own commentary using context clues, but oh the laughs we had! I don’t think there was a lot of laughter as we contemplated a move across the world. Again. But there was definitely grunting!
When we sat the girls down and told them we were praying about moving back to Texas, their responses were surprising. One started crying and said she didn’t want to leave China. One was excited because Chick-Fil-A is in Texas (go ahead, you can roll your eyes. We did too.), and the other was stunned and began immediately thinking of the friends she would have to say goodbye to but also the possibilities of social activity in a world where most people speak her language. I honestly had expected them to squeal and jump up and down in excitement, but I am so thankful that I got to see how God had turned their hearts towards our life in China too…that it wasn’t us being “mean” to make them live there, but rather a joy that God had allowed this life for them. Very soon after we told them, we started to field questions. Thousands of them that had no answers. The top of the list was schooling. Where would they go to school? Would they be homeschooled? Could they please go to Wall because my best friend goes there? (Wall, Tx is a tiny farming community about 10 minutes outside of San Angelo and has a FABULOUS, very highly ranked school).
I had no idea what to even tell the girls, but I was pretty sure that last option wasn’t really an option.
I texted a friend who is a teacher in Wall ISD and asked her if they accepted transfers. This text was before anyone knew about the decision we were fighting to make, and her response was so in line with who she is. She, without asking questions, said she would find out. Then she got excited and encouraged my socks off. Over the past couple of years, this friend has prayed for me, cried with me, loved on me, and encouraged me so much more than she will ever know. She replied back and said transfers weren’t allowed but that a Teacher’s Aide position was coming open and it would allow my girls to transfer into the district. She said she would talk to the principal and explain everything. The next thing I knew, I was scrambling to create a resume, after not having held a job in 18 years. Y’all. It was blank. I told Cameron that this principal was crazy if he called me for an interview. Yet, he did exactly that. We face-timed an interview; me in China, him in Wall, Texas. I had a peace and excitement growing in my heart and felt that, deep down, this is what God had lined up for us. We began praying about it as a family and it became a joke among us that if God could do this impossible thing (me getting a job), then anything really is possible!
When the email came offering me the position, the smiles in our house were blinding. We had one thing about our future lined up. Now on to a home and vehicles and furniture…
When we called Cam’s parents to fill them in on our upcoming life changes, they immediately offered us everything in their house. You see, God’s timing is perfect. It leaves no stone unturned and nothing left to chance. The doors were bursting open and our path was highlighted in neon. Cameron’s parents were moving to another state to retire/take care of Cam’s grandma/work in a new area. They didn’t need to take anything with them and were getting rid of all the things we were needing to buy. A refrigerator, couch, bed, television, kitchen things. Everything.
It seemed like every time we started to doubt whether or not the decision to leave China was right, God did something big to pull our eyes back and affirm to us that we were indeed following after Him.
As we began to sell all our things, again, and pack our lives into 13 boxes, God used everyone around us to help. The body of Christ truly stepped up and became family. I had two friends travel up by train to help me organize and pack and, honestly, to calm me down. They kept me grounded, encouraging me and reminding me that God already had the details figured out. The students that were there working with us kept us laughing and constantly sought out ways to serve us and our girls. Our local friends threw dinners and goodbyes for us. There were emotional goodbyes that broke our hearts. I saw a side of Cameron that I hadn’t ever glimpsed before when his closest friend, an older gentleman, grabbed him into an embrace and told him he would miss him and that he was unlike any other foreigner he had ever met because he cared so much for the people around him. And it is so true.
Over the past 18 years that we’ve been married, God has spiritually transformed Cameron into a man that is almost polar opposite from who he was when I married him. God has a way of stripping you in order to use you, and China did a number on us both. Cameron has become such a servant. I have watched him give his heart, his time, his sleep, his comfort. He would travel any distance on our island to help a brother in need. The leaders he worked with soon began to realize that Cameron was different. He wasn’t going to give them money, but he was going to walk with them. He would be there for every event, he would train them, he would encourage them, he would show them by example how to lead their churches into becoming healthy churches that could make disciples and reach the nations. He would laugh with them, joke with them, be REAL with them. He shared hotel rooms, ate very questionable food that would make most of us gag, and he became one of them. They let him inside their circles and their hearts, and he couldn’t have been happier. In fact, I have never seen Cameron enjoy life the way I did when we were in China. He was truly working right in the middle of the giftings that God had given him, and the goodbyes were heartbreaking. When you watch your husband weep because sending the email resigning a job he loves is too hard to do, but is what you are supposed to do, you can’t help but to fall in love a little bit more. And feel thankful and humbled that God allowed you to be his wife. I also felt so much trust. Remember how I told Cam on our walk that I didn’t think he would ever leave China…this moment was when I knew I had been allowing Satan to steal my trust from Cam. Cam walks tightly with Jesus and is sensitive to the leading of the Lord. I knew that in my head, but somewhere along the way it got disconnected to my heart. Following Christ isn’t easy, y’all. There’s a reason we have to commit daily to following after Him, and it’s because it goes against what the world says is good and right. It’s like swimming upstream when the current is unrelentingly pushing you the other direction. Everything in you wants to just let go and allow the stream carry you, but, friends, we are called to fight!
Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
When we got on the bus that carried us away from the life we’ve known for the past five years, our eyes turned toward the new battlefield that was waiting in front of us. Girded with Truth and the knowledge of being in His will, we entered our homeland once again.