It’s been just under 3 weeks since we took a deep breath, held hands and stepped off the driveway and into our minivan, then drove up to the north woods of Wisconsin and into the adventure of this next year.
The question I’ve received the most is, “How is your transition going?” We’ve heard that this can be a hard year for families, even from the get-go. It’s very busy and the crazy starts to happen almost immediately. We’ve been living the crazy for our entire marriage, though – working in 3 ministries at the same time does not provide one with a “normal” schedule – and with the heads up, we were prepared to roll with it. So how has it been? Honestly, it’s been… fantastic. The only thing I don’t like about this place has to do with the gazillion mosquitos constantly biting us. Poor Noah must taste like chocolate to them because he has well over a hundred bites. They shouldn’t be this bad for much longer; the dragonflies are assembling, much to our delight.
Other than that, it’s just lovely. Forest Springs is beautiful, the people are fantastic, and our entire family has been welcomed with open arms. The boys have already found themselves several “big brothers” whose names they shout out every time they see them, followed by hugs and silly conversations. Our LTD class connected very quickly (which doesn’t always happen) and we are super excited to spend the next year learning, growing, and serving along with them. The Director of Educational Ministries, Norm (or “Normie” as the boys affectionately refer to him) and his wife have already become our friends and we are thankful for them and their leadership. We are also getting to know some of the staff families here, and we really like them (and it seems they like us, too).
Our first several days here consisted of LTD orientation, then for the past two weeks Dan has been immersed in the Counselor Training Institute (CTI), along with the rest of the LTD students and all of college students who are here for the summer to work as counselors. I’ve been a camp counselor for 1-2 weeks every summer for the past 18 years (a couple of times in other countries, too), and let me tell you, I have never seen anything like CTI (although granted, I’ve never worked AT a camp for an entire summer). CTI is so thorough that it carries with it up to 8 hours of college credit. Here’s a snapshot of Dan’s days during CTI: 7:15: breakfast. 8:00-noon: classroom instruction. 12:00: lunch. 1:00-5:00: practical training concerning activities here (such as waterfront, archery, air rifles, low ropes, nature education) or sometimes more classroom instruction. 5-ish: dinner. 6:00-9:00 or later: classroom instruction. He has had a couple of days (or at least partial days) off, and the boys and I have eaten most meals with him in the dining hall, so that has helped immensely with us not feeling too overwhelmed as a family. I’ve also gotten to sit in on a few of the classes, and was even able to get certified in First Aid and CPR, but I really have no idea of the amount that they have covered, only that it’s A LOT… Dan has definitely felt overwhelmed with information, good as it is. He’s actually at one of the other buildings studying right now, as he has to take his CTI tests tomorrow morning (they have 4 hours blocked out for it), and it’s pretty intense. If you would pray for him as he finishes up CTI, that would be awesome.
Summer camps kick off on Wednesday afternoon and Will, Aiden, and Josh are attending the first one, Kids Quest, for 3 days. We’ll get to see them around and at meals but they will be staying in cabins with counselors, and we are hoping that they make some good friends and enjoy actually being campers. We have had a chance to experience a lot here already, and they absolutely love it. We also visited the local elementary school last week and then decided to sign them up for summer school as well, which started today and lasts for the next few weeks. Several of the teachers they will likely have in the fall are also teaching summer school, and we are hoping the boys will feel more at home once school starts as a result. The school seems wonderful, with really stellar staff, and I don’t think we could ask for a better place for the guys to be this next year. It’s the one year that all of our children will be in elementary school, which is yet another gift from God. His timing is so perfect – Dan and I never would have thought to plan what we are doing for this particular year, nor did we plan to have 4 children in such quick succession that they could all be in elementary school simultaneously. But God knew, and He made it happen.
There are many, many ways that God is showing us His care, not only during the past few weeks but during our entire transition of the last several months. We’ve been blown away at the encouragement from everyone we know in St. Louis, in spite of their sadness to see us go, and were able to walk forward are continually in awe of how God has provided for us (through many of you reading this!) and has placed us here for this specific year. It’s humbling and exciting, and we are eager to see it unfold!