It really happened.
Sunday and Monday we packed our suitcases and moved them into a hotel. All Monday we worked to prepare the house for the movers. They arrived early Tuesday morning and quickly got to work. They packed all Tuesday. That afternoon they took the items that were going into storage out of our house. On Wednesday morning they came again and moved everything that was going to Canada into the truck.
Meanwhile, Bert totally cleaned out and organised the garage, and I did last minute stuff in the house as well as trying to homeschool Andrew a little.
We took at least five or six truckloads of stuff to the dump, and that much again to Goodwill/Graceworks. It felt soooo good to get rid of so much stuff. And at this point I have to mention we have a couple of REALLY AMAZING friends who dropped everything to come help us. We are deeply indebted to them for their help and service.
By the time the movers came we were pretty numb with worry. Who knows if the belongings we put in storage will be ok when we get them back? Who knows if the stuff we're bringing to Canada will arrive in one piece? What will be will be, I suppose. It's all out of our hands.
Wednesday I cleaned the heck out of the house while the chaps were moving things onto the truck. My vacuum cleaner was the last thing they packed. Then they drove off. Toodleoo! =D
(There should be a picture here but I'm too dang tired to go find my phone and plug it in and download the picture to my computer then upload it to blogger and post it here. I will do it at some point in time.)
Thursday the rental agent came and went over what needed to be done before the house could be rented - basically new flooring and paint.
We also had to figure out where on earth we were going to stay in Canada as our actual house won't be ready until the end of April. By Thursday afternoon we were getting a bit panicky...but the relocation agency were able to get us into a house so PHEW! =D At that point we were also able to set up mail forwarding. I really really hope that works ok...
So many other last minute things we did. I can't remember them all. We were up early and went to bed late and we were working the whole time. We got everything finished by Friday afternoon - just in time, as we packed Friday afternoon and left early on Saturday.
The actual emigration
Saturday morning arrived. We never thought the day would come, but here it was! Astonishing.
We woke at 5am and jumped in the shower. Andrew woke with a tummy ache. He hadn't eaten much the night before, had stayed up late, and we were up early. We figured that was what it was.
We dragged all our luggage downstairs by 6am and waited for the taxi. While we were waiting Andrew threw up. Ohhhh boy.
We cleaned him up. By that time the shuttle was here so we loaded everything and off we went.
We arrived at the airport, checked our luggage, and stood in the long security line...
...where Andrew threw up again. Ohhh no. =( Luckily there was a trash can nearby. He was SUCH a trooper! After being sick he stood in that long line and went through security, then walked through the airport to our gate. There he was able to finally lie down while we waited for the plane.
Bert, Ben and I were finally able to get a little breakfast. Andrew was happy with a sip of water.
We were lucky enough to have priority seating on the plane, so we were quickly settled. During the flight Andrew said he needed the bathroom...and off he went and threw up again. =( Poor little sausage!
I have to say, throughout this whole experience he never once complained or whined. He was mildly feverish, but wasn't achy. He was basically a happy little boy other than the vomiting. What a blessing! It could have been really trying, but he was actually a joy.
We ate an early lunch at Chicago then hopped on the plane to Toronto.
Then we hit immigration.
The company attourneys had sorted out the paperwork. Everything was in order. It should have been a slam dunk. But oh no it wasn't. From the first the agent interrupted and assumed. We couldn't get her to listen to us. She said we couldn't have the visas we needed. We showed her the paper work which said that yes, according to regulation such and such, we actually could. She had us sit.
So we sat and sat and sat and worried and stewed and stressed and it was absolutely completely awful. Luckily, Andrew passed out and remained asleep for the whole experience. Again, blessings! Poor Ben stewed through the whole thing.
To add to the misery, there was a young Korean woman being deported. They had her in an open cubicle where we could hear everything and see everything. So terrible. =( She told her story but it didn't matter. They arrested her, took her picture, fingerprinted her, and took her to a detention center where she would remain until they put her on a flight back to Korea the next morning. It was a dreadful experience to witness, and it added to the nightmarish quality of the whole ordeal. We have talked about her quite a bit over the past 24 hours. All our hearts were wrung with pity for her, and we have prayed for her. We all wish we could have done something for her. How I wish we could have!!!
I began to wonder what on earth we'd gotten ourselves into. I was reminded of when I became a US citizen, which was one of the most appalling experiences I have ever had. Despite being a permanent resident with an American husband who I had been married to for many years, and despite the fact we had children together, I was still treated like a criminal. Both the Canadian and US immigration experiences seemed to be set up to dissuade people from entering, or to make them hate with all their little hearts the country they are entering. It's truly broken.
At one point when the agent was saying things needed to be one way but it was clear it was another, Bert called the immigration attourney. She was absolutely shocked and appalled we were having such a dreadful time. She said our kind of paperwork is so easy it should take a very short period of time and be no problem. She couldn't believe it was so awful for us.
We sat and waited and watched people come and go, come and go, and all the while that poor Korean woman was going through hell...
Finally, after a long long time, we were done. We were emotionally wiped out by this time. What a truly horrible experience. Bert was dealing with the agent alone by this point and said the immigration agent was really lovely at the end, thanked him for his patience, welcomed him to the country etc. I wish I could have been there to witness that. It might have made the ordeal worth it. Or not.
Getting to the house.
So finally we were released from immigration and were able to get our luggage - which had been sitting unattended for hours. You go through immigration before you get your luggage and go through customs, so we'd had no opportunity to collect our things. Obviously we had been worried about it all that time in immigration. We were so thankful to see our suitcases all safe and sound.
Bert took a taxi and went to pick up the car from his work, then came back to get us. We drove to the temporary house. We'd been looking forward to it since Thursday evening. The pictures promised it would be a really lovely place and we were so so so so tired.
I'm too emotionally exhausted to go into detail about the house. It's not what we expected. There are many things broken. Ben got a sliver of glass stuck in his foot, but thankfully was able to get it out. We were pretty unhappy.
Then the internet didn't work.
This sounds like such a little thing...but it was actually huge.
Andrew had been really sick. He had just not been well at all this whole difficult day. He just wanted to sit down and rest. He likes minecraft. He didn't have the energy to build, he just wanted to watch some fun minecraft videos on Youtube. All day long he had looked forward to it. When he found out there was no internet he finally lost it and cried his eyes out.
Ben had been holding it together most of the day. With Andrew, his family is still a big part of his world, so while it was difficult to leave the house and friends and activities, it wasn't as huge as a deal as it was for Ben. Ben left his entire world behind. His life revolved around his friends, job, and his activities outside the home. He hardly ever spent time with us. He left everything behind. His only contact with them is through the internet (we don't yet have phones that are able to make international calls/texting). And all of a sudden there was no internet. Ohhh boy.
All day long Bert had kept us together. When we were sick, tired, stressed, worried...he just kept on being supportive, kind, uplifting. He kept us moving forward. He had bourne the brunt of the moving logistics and was exhausted...but he kept it together. He called the rental company and spent a long time on the phone with them, finally figuring out the problem because he's a genius. It was late at night, we were tired and hungry, but he pulled off that miracle for his boys.
So it was after 9pm and we'd had no food and there was no food in the house. We left the boys resting, and went out to purchase basic supplies. In the car I fell apart. And Bert just listened, and supported, and moved forward....
At around 10pm we arrived home with food. We fed the boys. And then we needed to unpack. Oh man I was soooo tired.
But we unpacked.
Two things happened that were heartwarming.
First, the closet has two rails, one higher than the other. I suggested Bert take the higher rail because he is taller. He agreed, and then said, "Not that I'm suggesting you're _____ _____" or anything", mentioning a very dear friend of mine who is even shorter than I am. Just the mention of her name warmed my heart and made me feel better.
Then, as I was unpacking, I came across a bar of chocolate another dear friend had given me. I had deliberately saved this bar, knowing I would want it when I was Wandering in a new Strange Land. And there it was. As soon as I saw it, I remembered this friend and got all teary eyed. Eating a section of that chocolate warmed my heart even more and I was grateful for it.
Finally we were all done and could crawl into bed. We all slept like logs. Oh thank goodness for warm, comfortable beds.
So here we are, safe and sound in Canada. It was a difficult transition, but we're here. Only a few short weeks in this house, then we'll be moving into our real residence with our (hopefully not broken or missing) belongings.
We've come so far. We still have more to do to be sorted, but if we've made it this far and not died, we can do anything. =)
Onwards and upwards. There's good things to come.