About a month ago, my Dad travelled around the world to spend 4 weeks with us here in Newie as a Mission Builder. Mission Builders with YWAM Newcastle basically make their way here and serve in some capacity, while room and board are covered for them. My Dad came to help with various building projects.
We were so excited to pick him up, but unfortunately (just like last time!), we didn’t anticipate as much traffic as there was and ended up arriving a little late. Both times my parents have come to Australia, I have pictured us waiting as a family at the Arrivals Hall at Sydney Airport ready to cover them with hugs and kisses, and both times, traffic ruined that plan. Maybe we didn’t plan well enough either. Either way, we were late, and I was waiting for my Dad to call us or for us to go in and try to find him. Then I got a phone call from David, our base director, who was also flying in that morning, and he excitedly said, “I’ve got one Dad!” It was amazing how the timing worked out, and they both came out to the pickup area together where we then got to shower him with hugs and kisses. Eleanor was SO excited to see Papaw, and I am so grateful for FaceTime that has allowed her to know him even with the physical distance between us.
We went to Costco before making our way back, and Eleanor was incredibly excited that Papaw was there with her. She was pretty hyper and “chatty” all through Costco.
My Dad jumped right into things on Tuesday. His two major projects were removing and then putting in new walls in one of the flats and retiling the boys’ bathroom at the big communal living place. However, the amount of side jobs and small projects he did is massive. One of the weeks he was here, he got to supervise one of the base kids during his “Work Experience” week, which went so, so well. He helped with so many projects in our own home that have made life much easier – reinstalled the curtain between our bed and Eleanor’s cot (after Robbie sat on it and pulled it out of the wall haha), helped organise and utilise our pantry space better, fixed a wonky kitchen cabinet, regrouted a tile piece in our kitchen, helped Robbie put together a garden shed (YAY STORAGE!), installed a new mailbox, reattached an awning above our front window that had been knocked down in a bad storm earlier this year and fixed Eleanor’s swing so it actually would work smoothly. That’s just in our flat! He also helped the Berries with a few projects and the Becks as well. He helped with David and Carrie’s bathroom, and he contributed some new tools and supplies to the base, too. He certainly kept busy, and he blessed tons of people while he was here!!
We also had lots of fun together. We went the markets and the beach the first weekend he was here, and the boys also got haircuts, which my Dad really enjoyed. We took heaps of walks around town with Eleanor and let her try the slide for the first time on the playground (assisted). We tried cafes and restaurants. Papaw also babysat Eleanor several times for us so we could go to a class at our church, go out for Robbie’s birthday and go out for our anniversary. He hung out with her a few times so we could both go to things at the base as well, like Public Mtg and Staff Mtg. That was special as it doesn’t happen as much at the moment.
One thing that was really special about this trip was that he was a part of the daily life of the base and schedule, so everything became really routine. He’d come over in the mornings around 7 or 7:30 and have a coffee and play with Eleanor. We would sometimes go for walks at this time, too. He’d come over and have lunch with me while Eleanor was napping, and he would be hanging out in the evening. We watched Madam Secretary together and Homeland. We said at the beginning of the trip to Eleanor that she needed to learn to crawl while Papaw was here (joking), and she figured it out the last week he was here. It was so normal, which is perhaps why it was one of the harder goodbyes I’ve experienced.
A couple of days before he left, I was so excited because there were so many good things planned for the day. The Building Team surprised him and all went out for a lovely morning tea together. They all said nice things about him that had impacted them while he was here, and they prayed for him. David and Carrie took him out for lunch, and then he got to hangout with Eleanor and me for the rest of the afternoon. At dinner there was a special table just for him, and Fred gave a speech about his time here. I definitely cried just thinking about how impacting his 4 weeks with us had been and how it could possibly already be over. Then later that night, a bunch of a friends came over, and we made his famous pies together. It was such a special day!
It was super hard for me to say goodbye, and I know Eleanor is a little confused about why Papaw is back on that screen and not in person. I am so grateful for the time he got to spend with us, though and for my mom allowing him to come out. It was certainly a special trip!