After three and a half years, our time in Saudi is finally coming to an end. It has easily been the most difficult and amazing thing that we’ve ever done.
It took about a year and a half until I could call this place my home. But home it has become. In so many ways that I just can’t put into words. It’s also been the only home my youngest three children have ever really known.
It feels like an eternity, but at the same time, it’s like just yesterday that I got off of the plane in Jeddah, 37 weeks pregnant, and my jaw literally dropped as I walked into an airport filled with Muslim pilgrims wearing towels and a smell that just about made me lose my glorious airplane meal right there on the floor. I was completely unprepared for this.
Over the past 3 years, all the novel things about living in Saudi Arabia, all the idiosyncrasies, the quirkiness, the funny experiences, living without things you’ve always taken for granted have become so normal. Not ever knowing if I can get all the ingredients I need to complete a recipe, and knowing that if I ever needed to buy something, it would require 2-3 weeks shipping it here or a day of insane shopping in Jeddah (where I usually wouldn’t find exactly what I wanted and would have to pay more than it was worth). This has become my normal, and in so many ways I have come to absolutely love it! I love not being surrounded by tons of things to buy or a million places to spend my money. When we want to do something fun, we just go spend time together. This was the kind of normal that I was craving when we came here and it’s exactly what I got.
Did we achieve our goals of moving here? Oh, Saudi has gone above and beyond for our family. It was by no means easy, but I suspect that living in a foreign country (with very few similarities to your home) will always have many difficulties. We were looking for the place that God wanted us to be in this world, and although we resisted the idea of coming here at first, this was exactly where he needed us so we could become what he needed us to be. The experiences we’ve had, the challenges we’ve faced, and the people we’ve met have truly changed our lives. Our world has been opened up in so many ways.
We’ve traveled the world.
Gotten ahead financially.
Grown closer together as a family.
We’ve added 2 kids, 25 countries, one Marathon, and an Ironman 70.3 to our family, and it’s all felt great.
But as with all good things, our time has come to an end.
We have lived our time here in a resort like community, with free amenities waiting for us at every corner. I spend my days schooling our children and hanging out at the beach, while Andrew’s days have been completely different. He has spent his daytime hours at a hopeless, high-stress job, where failure is inevitable and pressure and frustration are the only constants. His soul has suffered, and so now it’s time to move on. Here in Saudi, no foreigner stays for good. You come for a while, do your job and pad your bank account, and then you leave. We are lucky as we are leaving on our own terms, and with life set up the way we want to live it.
We are now setting off to travel the world full-time as a family. It’s been our dream for years and now we are actually going to go out and live it. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time.
In my mind I have a perfect image of how our days will be, but I know that reality will be far different from that. We are working in 7 people living, working, learning, and traveling together. There will be long days, sleepless nights, and of course the inevitable vomit and fevers mixed in there just to keep us on our toes. But along the way, we will create bonds in a way that we couldn’t form any other way. Our memories, for better or worse, will be our best souvenirs.
How long will we go for? We’re still not sure. Right now we have the first 5 months planned out and then we’ll see what the best direction to take from there will be.
Make sure to follow along as we embark on our next journey to travel the world. As always, make sure to keep up to date on all our adventures on Instagram!