Tomorrow will be one week since I moved to Bogota. ONE WEEK. Didn’t I just leave yesterday? And it still feels weird to say that…”I moved to Bogota.” Maybe one day it will sink in.
Our first seven days have been busy, exhausting, stretching…amazing. I’m certainly tired, and at the end of most days I feel like my brain has been in overdrive, but I’m enjoying every second despite the chaos. Here’s a little sample of what our week has entailed so far:
- Moving to Bogota. We left Jackson last Tuesday at 12:20pm and arrived in Bogota at 8:30pm…it took us a couple hours to get through customs and baggage claim, and we finally got the boys to bed at 11pm. It was a long day. But the kids were amazing little travelers!
- Applying for our Cedula. The first thing on our agenda was to get our Colombian IDs, which requires special photos, bloodwork, fingerprinting, and paperwork. It was two mornings of running around town, but we got it done on our first 2 days. We couldn’t do anything without our cedulas (house hunt, get cell phones, etc), so it was high on our priority list.
- Getting to know the sitters. Everything we have to do to get set up here takes a lot of effort and a lot of time, and a lot of it would be very difficult with 6 children in tow. Our teammates here in Colombia hired two wonderful ladies to help us and the Kines with our kids on a “trial” basis for the first couple of weeks, and if it goes well, we can hire them on as our weekday childcare while we are in language school. (The kids will stay home with someone instead of being sent to daycare while we are in school.) Daisy is helping with the twins, and Nury is helping with the Kines crew. Even though these ladies don’t speak English, we have already started really enjoying our time with them! Our kids love them, and they have already been such blessings to us. We are thankful that the kids are able to stay home together and play with fun sitters while we adults sit in government offices, wait in long lines, and hunt for a place to live.
- Finding a place to live. As soon as we had our ID numbers, we started making appointments to see potential housing. The biggest problem we’ve had with a few houses is safety (mostly kid-proofing issues rather than neighborhood/crime issues) due to the fact that the building codes and standards are very different here. As of now, we’ve narrowed it down to our favorite options and we are hoping to get rental contracts finalized soon, although there are several hoops we have to jump through since we are foreigners. Please pray with us that this process goes quickly, since we are living out of suitcases until then.
- Meeting our new church community. We visited Iglesia Reformada Cristo Rey (Christ the King Reformed Church) this past Sunday, and we were thrilled to get such a warm welcome. The congregation was excited to have us there and was very patient with our non-existent Spanish skills. I am thankful for that community already, and I have a feeling we are going to make friends easily once we can learn a bit of Spanish!
- Memorizing a few key Spanish phrases. I can say “I speak a little Spanish” (with emphasis on the little!). I can order a hamburger, well done with cheese, ketchup, and pickles, but no lettuce (we shouldn’t eat the lettuce here), with fries and a water or diet coke, and a kids meal with juice. I can say hello, how are you, I’m well, thanks, what is your name, my name is Nikki/Nicole, give me five, I’ll see you tomorrow/monday/later, etc, breakfast, lunch, snack, naps at one, the park, they are twins, nose, airplane, a lot of my numbers, many colors, a few food items, and probably a few other things if I think about it hard enough. That feels like a long list, but it doesn’t get me far.
- Learning how to get around. Moving all 10 of us to Bogota when NONE of us speak Spanish is certainly a challenge. We are so thankful for our teammates who are being so generous with their time to translate and show us the ropes. They’re teaching us how to greet people appropriately, tell how we’re doing, and have very short yet polite conversation; how to get a taxi, give an address, and pay the driver; how to go to the grocery store, find what we need even when we dont recognize labels, and pay for our stuff; how to give instructions to a sitter using a few mispronounced vocab words and lots of awkward hand motions; how to order our food at a restaurant and avoid the “taboo” foods for sensitive foreign stomachs…. everything I take for granted and do without thinking back at home, I’m having to be taught step-by-step here in Bogota. It’s humbling and stretching, for sure! And that’s not even the beginning of all we have to learn.
Next up on the agenda is to get a rental contract on a place to live, meet all the rental requirements, move in, register for language school, and start classes. That still might take a little time, but we are praying that the Lord will bring everything together so that the process is smooth and swift.
And as busy and full and exhausting as our week has been, I haven’t felt overwhelmed a bit. I’ve felt completely carried along by the Lord’s grace. If anything has overwhelmed me, it has been the bounty of blessings that God has graciously poured out on us over the past week. He has been good and faithful and abundantly merciful, and he is proving his nearness to me every single day.
So even though I’m tired, I’M IN BOGOTA! And after all these years of waiting and preparing, you can bet I’m loving it.