Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Journey Begins--Part 1!

Well, it looks like our first blog post is going to come at 4:00am Japanese time. I am on out 17th floor balcony watching our precious new city come to life. This is truly the land of the rising sun. It’s 4:00 in the morning and the sun is already coming up! This will take some getting used to…and we will need to invest in some thick darkening curtains for our kids rooms. Hannah and Abigail are wide awake too. They woke up just after Josiah fell asleep. He woke up at 2:00am. It did not matter to me, because I (Matt) could not sleep anyways. My mind and my heart are racing. I am thinking over the last 2 years and looking ahead at the next 2. If I am honest, my prevailing thought as husband and father is, “What. Have. We. Done.”

My family is struggling to sleep on the floor of an empty little apartment. This long journey of travelling from my parents house to our apartment caused lots of tears, pain, and vomit (story to come). We don’t know how to do anything here. We don’t have light fixtures yet. How do we get those? How do we buy groceries? How will the kids make friends? Hundreds of thoughts and questions running through my mind. What. Have. We. Done.

I hope this blog serves as an opportunity for you to journey with us. For us to be honest with our joys and sorrows. This will simply be our little family of 5’s account of leaving home and learning to make a new home in a very different place. All for the sake of the Gospel in a very dark country.  Let the story begin…

Yesterday was a long day. It began at 4:30am Dallas time. We loaded up and drove to the airport with 12 check in bags weighing 50 pounds, 5 carry-ons weighing between 30-50 pounds, and 5 “personal bags” that we can have along with our carry ons. Saying bye to my Mom as we left the house was so hard. The tears for me began there. As we drove to the airport I wondered how the heck we were going to make this work. We had SO MUCH stuff.

Katharine and the kids rode with her Dad in one car, and my Dad and I rode with the bags in the other. As we arrived at DFW Airport, I prayed, “Lord I receive the prayers of the saints.” We had so many people praying for us, and I just prayed a prayer to receive them and have them cover us as we began our long trip.

Immediately, we found a wonderful Ethiopian airport employee to get all our luggage up to the check-in desk. This was no small task. I was able to talk a little Amharic (their language) with him, and tell him what we were doing. He vowed to stay with us till all our bags were checked in. Praise #1. We arrived with all our stuff to the Delta check-in desk and were greeted by a very kind lady named Tranise. She is a Christian and was very gracious to us. Most of our bags were a little over 50 pounds. She didn’t charge us for any extra weight. She encouraged us and blessed us on our journey. Praise #2.

From there, we took all our carry-ons and got in the long security check point line. Both of our fathers watched the kids as we stayed in line. At the last possible moment, as we were walking up to the place they check boarding passes, they handed us the girls and the tears began. Abigail wept. And I mean wept. It hit her for the first time. We were leaving. She kept saying, “I want my Papa. I want my Mimi. I want my Granddaddy.” As she wept, we starting weeping. We had to say bye to our Fathers. That was terrible. We love our Dads so much. As we cried, I remembered, that we were in a security check point line and there were a lot of grumpy people needed to get through to catch flights.

The TSA security lady was patient with us and let us say our goodbyes and cry. When she took our passports, she read the names of our kids, and said, “What wonderful Biblical names. Praise Jesus.” She then blessed us with “whatever we were doing.Praise #3. In the midst of so much anguish, that TSA lady encouraged us so much. I don’t know how much experience you have with TSA agents, but that was a minor miracle. Praise Jesus indeed.

Going the rest of the way through security was tough. The girls were weeping still, and we had 10…yes 10, check in bags to get on that conveyor belt. I worked frantically getting out our computers, liquids, and taking off shoes. Every one was so patient with us and nobody rushed us. We eventually got everyone through security and the things back in our bags. Then we had a problem. How were we going to get all that stuff to our gate?! We had 10 bags AND had to pull Josiah in his stroller.

The girls “personal bags” were backpacks and they were huge. We had to load them full. We put the backpack on Abigail and she took two steps and fell backwards. I guess it weighed more than her. It gave us some much needed comic relief. Somehow, we managed to roll, carry, and drag our carry-ons to E12 and collapsed. More tears. Abigail was going through the emotions of leaving for the first time. Sweet Abigail didn’t really know what we were doing till that moment. She could not stop crying.

As we waited for our flight to Detroit, I was trying to figure out how we were going to get all the kids and 10 bags on and off an airplane, and then through the airport in Detroit. We heard an announcement. “If you would like to check-in some of your carry-ons, to save us space, please come to the desk.” I went up and said, “YES.” I confirmed that we would pick these up in Detroit and he said, “no, we will send them all the way to Nagoya.” I literally looked up and said Praise God. We checked 5 of our largest carry ons right there and only had backpacks left. Praise #4. God was truly watching over us.

The prayers of so many people truly blessed us on a very difficult morning. I don’t know what we would have done without those prayer induced praises. Thank you for praying for our family.

To be continued….Next up, we will continue our journey with the chronicles of flying almost 15 hours with 3 little kids. It includes tears, vomit, and laughter.

Thank you again for your prayers and encouragement. We continue to covet them and receive them. God bless.


  1. Prayers were certainly with you and received by the Lord. Amen!

  2. Matt,

    Thanks for sharing! Praying for you guys and look forward to walking with you on this journey.

    The Geyer's

  3. Wow! What a journey! I'm so encouraged by the praises along the way! We will keep praying! Really doesn't need us but uses us, so sweet!

  4. Even the Anglicans were praying for you at noonday prayer yesterday. You may be thousands of miles away but you are close in our hearts.

  5. Praying for you and your sweet family. I feel very fortunate to have been able to meet/get to know you guys over the past year... You were such blessings to us. Greatly enjoyed reading your recounting of the airport/goodbye experience. Laura and I just returned from spending time with her family in Florida this afternoon (we flew). Comparing our relative ease of passing through security and the airport with ya'lls makes me shudder a little. It sounds as if the Lord was certainly lighting your paths though and I am thankful that He made it so apparent to you. I had to try hard to hold back tears as I read about Abigail... Love you so much, brother. You all are on my heart and will continue to be in our prayers.
    -Ryan Maxwell

  6. If you need help, please feel free to ask me. Takumi

  7. love you guys. so thankful for God's provision.

  8. So excited to follow your journey! The Whitemans are praying for those praises to keep on flowing! Thank you Jesus for the Elkins!

  9. Looking forward to journeying with you guys! About to start post #2, and trying not to cry! Love you guys!