Someone asked a question about the timing of our return to Chile, specifically as to why we left the States before the kids finished their school year. I realized this may have been something we explained in our e-mail prayer letters more thoroughly than on the blog. Basically, one main reason boils down to residency requirements in Chile. In order to not lose the permanent residency obtained with "blood, sweat and tears" over several years, we had to be back inside the country before 365 days were completed. And while an entire school year could fit inside this timeframe, we also had to take into consideration that the majority of our supporting churches were 9-12 hours away from where our children would be studying. This meant arriving a couple of months prior to school in order to visit as many churches as possible during the summertime before classes began, and scheduling others on long weekends during the school year. (For additional reading: A Wonderful Whirlwind, Parts: One, Two, Three, Four (1 of 2) and (2 of 2).)
Even so, we might have been able to adjust by a week or two except that it was a high priority for us to overlap at least one week with my sister's family's furlough so that our entire family (grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins!) could spend one week together on vacation. The last time we were able to do so was in 2012, so it was a reunion five years in the making. Since our family was arriving to begin one year in the States just as my sister's was departing after completing one year, it was a tight scheduling squeeze but so worth it! (For additional reading: Family Vacation: Moments to Remember, Parts: One and Two.)
Just for fun, I looked up pictures of the grandchildren with their Pop-Pop and Mom-Mom in 2012 and 2017. Sweet memories!
Timing a furlough is not an easy task, as there are so many variables to consider. We talked, prayed, researched, planned and ultimately trusted that God would work all the details together - and of course, He did. What an amazing year it was and we are so thankful for the many people and places and events that will forever make up the tapestry of our memories!