My last day of employment in China was the 11th of June, 2016. The total work contracts (five of them at a public school in Shenzhen, three others for QSI International School of Dongguan) spanned a length of 7.77 years. It was time to move on, with a teaching certification left to wrap-up, with the last step having to take place in the US in one of a dozen partner states. That number has slimmed down to 11, Arizona dropping affiliation on the website of ABCTE.org.

Ten days & over 2,oookm later, after a stop in Spring’s hometown of Yueyang, we waylayed in Beijing having sent ahead five or so pieces of luggage by delivery. There were about 12 bags, counting the carry-on. Since Hunan, my momther-in-law had accompanied us, seeing us off that rainy day spent shopping and touring Tiananmen grounds. Were those raindrops on her face as she bid us farewell? Maybe not if it were just me and her first child going off to America, but we had two of her favorite grandchildren in tow.

The flight: long & somewhat less memorable than the Amtrak trip from Seattle to Whitefish a few weeks later. When a double trailer semi has a train pass through it on the tracks leaving Wenatchee, it tends to delay the process.

We’d spent the first 2 1/2 weeks with my folks in Kirkland, getting to know just how international the area was becoming through interactions with folks at the public parks/beaches and assembling with the Lord’s Recovery congregation in Bellevue and the Kirkland Church of Christ. A French friend Samuel whom I’d met at the U of M while attending ’04-’08 also met up with us one day. I’d also been getting applications in to the Dept. of Education in Idaho and some schools in and around the panhandle. The idea was to try and settle in the Spokane/Coeur D’Alene area after getting a vehicle in Kalispell, MT. My 83 year-old grandmother came (with my Aunt Cheryl’s boy Dustin along) and snagged my family from Whitefish. The car we had first considered was getting fixed up by Dustin but not necessarily cleaned out, so we began looking elsewhere, seeing as how my uncle coming down from Alaska would be using it for a couple weeks at the end of July.

I met up with Nick Palmer, a former co-worker with the FSSS office (now known as ISS). HE’d moved to Korea in the time I was in China and also came back with an asian wife. They have one child & he had even landing some teaching gigs in the Flathead Valley, but was employed at the hospital for the time-being. He steered me toward the classifieds page for the Flathead on Facebook & within 15 minutes I was responding to a post about a ’95 Honda Odyssey. Only $1350 and it’s still showing it’s worth a few tires, rear brakes, a radiator hose, tune-up & starter later. We even made it throughout the winter without chains. We left the next day to stay in Spokane for a couple of weeks, then on to Moses Lake for three. The stay in Spokane was vital, since our border crossing in the Sea-Tac airport resulted in Spring having her 6 month stay chopped to only two months. Since Spokane had an immigration office to work through, we were able to get an application to the Chicago field office to arrive on the date her stay was supposed to end, August 31st. Since they received our request to adjust status and extend her stay (things expressly prohibited according to the CBP stamp) on said date, a process was in motion under the jurisdiction of the USCIS to help us toward a permanent residence (aka green card). We’re currently a medical examination correction and update away from that status, but her employement permit has cleared and this is the 2nd weekend she has put some time in at All Seasons as a housekeeper, legally employed.

The episode in Moses Lake needs to be left alone, for the situation we found ourselves in was all-around bad news, with the exception of seeds sown for the gospel with some fellow workers within the crop of cannabis cultivation I’d found somewhat gainful employment in as an inventory specialist. Thank the good Lord for family camp. I’d not had any success by Labor Day weekend in finding a teaching job in Idaho nor Washington (though I was blessed with at least one interview at the Coeur D’Alene reservation school). Since I had Montana on my mind with the annual meeting of numerous congregations in Bozeman approaching, I decided to upload my details to the Montana Office of Public Instruction website and within a week got a couple of calls. One was from a gal in Poplar, MT and a second from the superintendent of White Sulphur Springs school district #8.

When Larry Markuson from WSS SD#8 called, I associated him with the Poplar school and thought I might need to relocate to Eastern Montana and assemble with the Williston crew, which was truly exciting. After speaking with both schools initially and letting them know that I was not licensed to teach in Montana (the closest I was to being certified anywhere was Idaho, at least in the northwest region of the U.S.), I’d pretty much written myself off from getting a job in a school in my favorite state. Since I’d referred a friend┬áto Mr. Markuson (remember Nick Palmer? It turns out he’d made pals with my cousin Andy Kirk, the older half-brother of my uncle Jim’s girls since I’d been in China & it was Andy that agreed to help me sponsor Spring, since me doing it alone without an income over the summer doesn’t appeal to the immigration process), I called him back about it on the way to Bozeman. We’d just spent the night at a sister’s place in Missoula and I’d prayed to the God of the Universe to take over after it seemed my efforts over the past couple of months had proven fruitless. When I spoke to him, he assured me that not only had he spoken to Nick, but that the position had been filled by a gal that was also contemplating a teaching gig in China with Disney English. I let Larry know that I’d be interested in anything he might have to offer down the road, but he didn’t even let me off the phone before offering a proposition of enough part-time work to keep one full-time busy. What he told me was ultimately true I discovered that Tuesday following Labor Day, but I’ll save that for another post. God is good all the time…and all the time, God is good. It’s good to be back.

80 days after our plane arrived to the States, I was in Montana within a week’s time of starting work…first just supervising kid’s on the playground at lunchtime and cleaning up the gym/locker rooms, but with a little more testing and training, I was driving school bus and teaching reading classes, even enrolling Matthew in time for him to temporarily be in one of them with a few other boys.

Things have gone well here so far, but plans are in motion to once again look for some closure on this teaching certification that is most possibly and probably to take place in Idaho. Feel free to pray that we may end up in a location that keeps us connected to the body of Christ, for times of spiritual drought in China took its toll on me. I need hearty and healthy fellowship, as a parched ground needs the rain.

I’ll share what we’ve been doing as far as encouragement in the Lord here in Montana in the next published post.

Appreciated is your making it this far. May the Lord bless you as He has us.

David, Spring, Matt & Autumn.

 

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Saint's Sojourns

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