The Week-Long Eternity
It’s official. One week from now, I will have already been standing on US soil for several hours for the first time in nearly three years.
I never actually intended to be away from the US for this long, but when the global pandemic/crisis hit five months after I return to China to finish my contract, leaving China became a seemingly impossible task. I’d love to say that 2.5 years later it has gotten easier, but unfortunately that doesn’t feel like it is true. While the rest of the world seems to treat Covid-19 the same way they treat the flu with their continuously relaxing policies, China seems to have remained stern in the “Zero Covid” policy.
For my daily life living in China right now, that means daily temperature logs in the morning and evening and a Covid test 3 days a week in order to keep my 48 hour Covid test status on my phone so that I am allowed to enter public places like malls and also go to campus to finish work. I know to people on the outside looking in, this seems extreme and super frustrating and controlling, but honestly, it is usually just a minor inconvenience on days when I’m really busy. Otherwise, it has just become a normal part of life and doesn’t really bother me. In fact, I’d almost say that it makes me feel safe in knowing that the powers that be seem to be taking my health and the health of the country very seriously.
Struggles in Leaving
Knowing that daily life seems to be fine, the true challenges have come with trying to leave. With different policies in every city, airline, and country I have to travel through to get home, adding in the fact that I’m traveling with cats, it has been super challenging.
My first flight was canceled, my new flight is located 20+ hours away by car and cats aren’t allowed on domestic flights. So many complications. Adding in the fact that things could change and my months of planning could all go out the window even minutes before I step on the plane to leave the country, it is stressful to say the least.
My current plan is to send the cats to the city I’m flying out of on Friday morning so they can get there and be waiting for me when I arrive later that day. We will spend a few days in a pet friendly hotel, have a few Covid tests, and rest (hopefully) a bit before we flight out of the country on Sunday.
Honestly, as soon as I touch the ground in another country, I may collapse on the floor and kiss the ground. Probably not because that would be gross, but you get the idea. It will be an unexplainable and at this point unfathomable relief just to know that I successfully got out of the country with both cats on the plane with me.
However, until then, there is a lot of anxiety and stress, mixed with busy days, and restless nights. It’s not a good combination, and definitely makes the “leaving well” process more complicated. Knowing that I have at the very least a group of prayer warriors backing me up from all corners of the earth relieves some of the stress and anxiety, but it is ever present, knowing that the unknowns exist.
An Eternity in a Week?
This week feels like an eternity; like it is never going to come to an end. At the same time, I am afraid to close my eyes at night for fear of opening them in the morning only to realize that it is Friday already and I still haven’t finished all of the tasks that I need to complete to be able and ready to fly out of the city.
How it is possible for something to feel like polar opposites, an eternity verses the blink of an eye, I have no idea, but that is exactly how this week feels. It is Sunday, and next Sunday will be here before I know it. Ready or not!
Celebrations and Blessings
I can officially celebrate the completion of the school year, which ended for me at the end of the day on Friday. With that comes the completion of my job. With the exception of my freelancing work, I am officially unemployed and looking for my next job as a software engineer.
Teaching these kids and working with the staff at this school has been an amazing experience filled with more blessings than I can count, and I will always remember my time here with fondness. Once a Dolphin, Always a Dolphin.
The biggest request that I have right now is for peace and trust. I need peace in knowing that I can trust in God to take care of everything. Peace in knowing that it will all work out. Trust in the process and the promises of the Bible. Peace every time I hear of people struggling to leave with pets. Peace when I hear about cities going into lock down or changes in polices unexpectedly. Peace in knowing that this will all be over in less than a week.
The second biggest request is that my flight is not canceled and that when I get to the airport to board the plane, both cats will be on the plane with no problems and we will be allowed to leave on time. I’ve heard people say things like, “I was rejected because of the weight of the pet” or “incorrect paperwork” or “canceled flights” or a plethora of other reasons. I am terrified something will happen and I will be made to choose to leave my cats or stay behind until I can find another way. I know for some people, the cats seem to be unimportant, but they have been with me for almost 7 years. They have gotten me through some of my darkest time in my life, and I refuse to leave them behind, but I want to get back to my family and the people I love as soon as possible too.
Pray for the safety of the cats. I will be releasing them into the care of a pet moving company (assuming they approve the transportation requests. Pray that works out too.) on Friday and I won’t see them again until I get them on Saturday morning (hopefully). I’m concerned for their health and safety and I need to trust that it will be okay, but I’m still scared. I don’t know what I would do if something happened to one of them. Then again on Sunday, I will be trusting them with the airlines for more than 36 hours where I will not see them or be able to check on them for the entirety of the flight/travel time from China to the US. Pray that they make it through the long trip with minimal fear and no health concerns. I need them waiting for me in one piece, healthy, but maybe a little mad at me for leaving them for two days, when I land on US soil.
Pray for the last few days I have with my sister (that we don’t kill each other) and pray for my sister as she is transitioning to a new place/job/routine as well.
Finally, pray that the last opportunities that I have with friends that have been so dear to me over the last 1-8 years is a time of happiness and more memories, and not a time of sadness and heartbreak as we start saying our goodbyes.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read more of my ramblings. I hope that you have enjoyed it. And thank you to the prayer warriors who are praying for these requests. Know that your efforts are not in vain and that I can feel the impact of them daily, even in the most stressful moments. I am thankful for you.