Our trip home took as a bit longer than usual because God again chose to encourage us to slow down. After a couple of great days of driving in Mexico, we arrived in San Antonio on Tuesday night with plans to enjoy the Wednesday there, and then make a fast drive up 22 hours north to Grand Forks in 2 days so we could do some shopping before crossing the border. Well God thought it best that we should drive slooowly home, so he provided a few of us with our first cases of "the trots" amongst other things. Myself, Joseph, and Lorianne have had our share of bathroom breaks over the past week, and we aren't quite done yet! However, our spirits are good, and the kids were amazing travellers once again, doing five 8+ hour travelling days in the past week.
Leaving Mexico on Monday morning was sad, because we were leaving behind not only great weather and amazing sights and delicious food, but also leaving Miss Susan, who had become a great friend to all of us in the past week. She again drove us to the toll station at the edge of the city, and all the kids hugged her and told her how much they will miss her, and how much they (and we!) are looking forward to her coming to visit us in Emo sometime soon.
Driving back up through Mexico we managed to get a shot of some of the provincial welcome and so long signs along the highway (I think Feliz viaje means have a happy trip). We drove through about 5 provinces on our 1200km journey to the border, and it cost us just over $40 in toll fees to travel on the amazing smooth and safe roads.
I think this is a photo I will blow up for the wall. It shows, the moon, a palm tree "forest" and the shadow of our amazing van, which served us so well (and will get a well deserved trip to the garage this week to see what needs fixing!).
Mexicans love their statues, and there were many of these huge monuments to famous historical figures at the entrances of the cities we travelled through. It would have been nice to stop and see who these people were, and to learn some of the history, but there was not time - I guess we will have to go back some day!
We were doing a lot of praying about the border crossing back into the States, and it went great, outside of sitting on a bridge for about 45 minutes waiting to get through. (It did however, allow us to get a great picture of our second US/Mexican border of the trip.) Outside of our initial entry into the US in October, all our border crossings and highway checkpoint stops were very smooth. It is a good thing that we didn't have any issues at the Mexico military checkpoints, because there were guys with machine guns and sandbag posts with heavy artillery guns! The kids were kind of awed by all the weapons, and it really looked like if someone tried to make a break for it, that they would just get mowed down.
This past week wasn't just all driving. We did get some much needed school shopping in (our kids are entering school in Emo on Feb 11 - yippee say the parents!), and had fun at the hotels. The weather was miserable in San Antonia so we didn't get to see the Riverwalk or any other sights. However, the kids all loved the "Texas" waffles at the hotel we were staying, and while Lois did more shopping, I took the kids to see The Waterhorse, which is a great movie.
I believe it is fair to say that Lois actually enjoys shopping more than I ever thought she did. Maybe it has something to do with all the great sales here in the States, or more likely, the fact that we actually have some money available. In that sense, it has been very nice to live in a kind of "fairy tale" world with no house bills, money in the bank from the sale of our house, and opportunities to do and see (and buy!) more things than we have never had before.
In North Sioux City, South Dakota, we had the very new and very fun experience of having a whirlpool tub right in our own room. Fire code regulations didn't allow us to sleep in a regular room, but the guy at the desk let us have a suite with bed space for all six of us (and this very fun tub) for only $75!
Throughout our whole trip we have again and again seen how God has supplied hotels at reasonable rates for us. In fact, we even have enough points through the Choice Hotels chain for two free nights, which will come in very handy when we are back to living the regular pastor lifestyle.
Oh the fun of the snow! The kids were looking out the window for snow and finally, in Kansas, we found enough to play with! Having not seen any snow at all until now, it was quite the novelty, and they had lots of fun throwing snowballs at each other. And the big highlight last night was to go over to Auntie Elaine's house, get the snow boots and sleds, and get ready for some serious Winnipeg snow fun.
So we are "home." Well it isn't really home, it is Grandma's house. The Adventure and the unsettledness still continues as we meet with people, make moving arrangements, book appointments with friends, tie up loose ends, buy school supplies, and pack some more. And even in Emo our first home will, as God guides, only be temporary as we seek to move into the country.
But ultimately that won't be home either, because life is just one big journey to our true home, heaven. Living with nothing but a van full of stuff for 5 months has made this biblical truth seem that much more real. We are aliens and strangers, living in a foreign land, hungering for a place that when we get there, we will look around, and look inside at our souls and truly be able to say, "Now, I am home." No longer will we have to fight our sinful nature and struggle to obey our loving Father, or cringe when we see our children act in sinful ways. No longer will the things of this world catch our attention and distract us from our calling to a gospel-centered, Christ-loving, Bible-reading life.
That is the greatest homecoming, much greater than travelling around North America and then coming home. And so, as with all of God's children, the Dueck 6 "Adventure with God" really isn't over, it just continues on. And for that matter, this blog will continue on as well. Hopefully you are friends will want to continue to see and be encouraged by what God is doing in our lives, and I pray also that in years to come, our own children will read these adventures and know that God has been faithful to them all through the years. So stay tuned (especially in the next week as Lorianne will post a poem she wrote in honor of our homecoming).