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A Crazy Year on Furlough – A Mom’s View

September 2, 2010
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Greetings from Karen!  These past 12 months have been such a wild ride, I’m still trying to process it all. Instead of coming to the States from our home in South Africa in December ’09 as planned, I (along with Timothy [then 17] and Luke [then 2]) left hurriedly at the end of September to fly to California as my mom lay in bed on life support. Long story short, my mom made a miraculous recovery from meningitis and I spent the next 6 weeks with three of our kids here in California, while Steve and the other 3 kids were still in South Africa. We were reunited as a family in November, just in time to celebrate Timothy’s 18th birthday.

Things we have done since we arrived in the States:

Stephen is settled in college (and doing very well; he’s on the dean’s list), living with his grandma and very active in a local church. He is also a licensed driver now.

Timothy has completed high school – he finished in July as we were staying in a parsonage in Wichita, Kansas. He traveled with us from March-August and is learning to drive, planning to get his license soon.

We “hit the road” in March, heading out from San Jose, down to Los Angeles, over to Arizona, Texas, across to Florida, up to the Northeast where we bounced around for several weeks, then over to Minnesota, down to Kansas, over to Colorado, up to Idaho, over to Washington, and finally down to California again. Our average stay was two to five nights at any one place; mostly with people, but sometimes in hotels. Steve preached and shared in MANY different churches, we saw many friends and family and made MANY new friends along the way. So much happened in those five months – it seems surreal. People were so kind and generous along the way, and there are MANY thank you notes written in my head that haven’t made it into print yet!

Some highlights while traveling:

  • Making new friends
  • Renewing friendships with family members and old friends
  • Traveling through 40 states
  • Timothy graduating from high school
  • Stephen meeting up with us for a family reunion in Idaho
  • Catherine turning 11 with friends in Maryland
  • Steve playing in a church golf tournament in Connecticut on our 23rd anniversary (he took me out to dinner late); the people we were staying with presented us with flowers and dessert
  • Celebrating Steve’s birthday with all 8 of us in Idaho

Actually, as I sit here writing, too many memories are hitting me to write down. Some “not so fun things”:

  • Timothy had pneumonia while in the Northeast
  • I fell down the stairs at a church in New Jersey on Memorial Day weekend and have walked with difficulty since (almost healed now)

Traveling with five kids (Stephen joined us for the last few weeks, making it six) for that long in a Suburban had its challenges! Steve drove the entire way (his choice)!  Luke has no concept of what “home” means. While in the Northeast one morning, the “mommy” of the house we were staying with was getting ready to go to work and Luke asked me, “Who will take care of us?” I told him “I will! I can do it!” It made me realize that his concept of life is pack, load up the car, drive, stay with people who take care of us for a few days, go to a new church and nursery each Sunday, repeat. He was very flexible and good most of the time, not withstanding that he doesn’t sleep much at all in his car seat. He never once had a problem going into yet another church nursery. We are so thankful!

Now that the traveling part is over (mostly), we are getting ready to pack up and head down to Los Angeles on September 14. We will be staying in a missions house near Grace Community Church until the end of the year, when we return back to South Africa. Stephen will stay here in San Jose and attend college, but visit us (in L.A.) on some of the weekends until the end of the year. Steve will be busy writing several syllabi for new classes that he will be teaching when we return to South Africa.

Now for the hardest part: When we return to South Africa at the end of the year, we will be leaving two or three of our kids here. Stephen is settled in San Jose (for now), but will probably be transferring somewhere next fall to finish college. Timothy might be coming back to South Africa with us for 6 months before returning to the States to start college next fall. Kimberly is planning on staying with Stephen (and Grandma) for the last half of her senior year; she’s not sure what she’s going to do after that.

I am so thankful for the time we have spent here these last several months, but miss home terribly. The only difficult part is leaving kids here, but it is time to “shoot those arrows”. I am so thankful for the years God has given us together, and am excited to see how God is continuing to grow them up in Him.

Thank you SO MUCH to all of you that housed us, fed us, befriended us, prayed for us, etc. It has been a Crazy, Blessed time.

Please pray that these next few months before going home are profitable and productive as our time together as a family is short. Pray for wisdom for Steve and I (and the three big kids), as we get them settled more fully into the next stage of life.

Speaking of the big kids:

The Plodinec family, circa 1997

The Plodinec family, circa 1997

The Plodinec kids in 2009

The Plodinec kids in 2009

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