paved, gravel, dirt, sand, and moon-cratered

We've been here in Sao Luis now for about a week and what a week it's been. I can finally say all boxes are unpacked. NOT that everything is exactly where I want it but we have pulled off an extraordinary amount of tasks in one week along with beginning a new school year with the kids. We were crazy enough to start things up on Monday in order to keep them from getting behind. Our boxes and furniture arrived on Friday which was just a few hours after we had gotten here, thanks to our little set back.

I won't go into much detail about the 34 hour trip that was supposed to take only 12 hours. I'll only skim over the highlights. Granted, several of those hours involved us passed out in a hotel room weary and stubbornly giving in to the realization of exhaustion. Or, at least some of us were with the comforts of a mattress and a/c window unit. Mike's night went down a bit different as he was reclined in the driver's seat of our extended cab truck. He got a few hours of sleep outside in order to keep a watchful eye on all of our belongings.

Maybe I should back up just a bit. On DAY ONE of our travels things started beautifully. We had made some great time on the roads, stopped and had a bite to eat for lunch, and all three of our "growing bigger by the minute" boys were sharing their tight space in the backseat of our truck nicely. (Kudos to the boys really quick...cause they were pretty much perfect the whole trip with only a few moments of chaos.) I guess kids know when they better hold it all together.

Anyway...Mike's idea was to ENTER in each city on the GPS as we passed through the prior city in order to not have any funny things happen with our little mapping device. The night before we had left, the neighbors that lived above us had come to say goodbye and the older gentleman had shared with Mike about all the state roads versus the federal roads. State roads, typically, are in much better shape than the federal roads because of the funding. SO he and Mike talked over the best route to get about halfway to Maranhao.

I guess that's where the problems started, about half-way there. We were in a small town and Mike decided to stop putting in the "next" city into the GPS and instead skip ahead a couple of cities because, afterall, what would it hurt.

Extremely LONG story short...in one of the cities Raquel, as Mike likes (liked) to fondly call the Portuguese voice in our GPS, took us down a road we really had no business being on. It went from pavement to stone to gravel to dirt and finally to sand. After seeing some gentlemen looking rather concerned about us being in their "parts" of the world, we turned the truck around and unfortunately had to drive past these said men again in order to leave this miserable town. On the way back past the men, they decided to line both sides of the roads with guns in hand and stare us down. What did we do? What any good gringo does. We smiled really big, waved, acted completely oblivious, and Mike pushed the pedal a tad bit harder.

After finally getting on the road that RAQUEL wanted us to be on, A STATE ROAD, we drove one hour going about 10 mph. The road had potholes so large that a Volkswagon could have literally been swallowed up. Literally, in all Mike's trips to the interior...he'd never seen a road this bad. Everyone in the car began missing the dirt paths we had been on only hours before. We all kept our cool and just prayed we would eventually come out to a better surface but after an hour and the sun setting and everything looking pretty glim, Raquel (GPS) decided to go haywire. We appeared to be completely on the wrong side of the city that we were trying to leave. It ended up being just a glitch in the GPS (probably a GOD glitch)because we were on the "right" road but we decided the "right" road for us would be one in which we could go over 20 mph. SO, we turned the truck around, backtracked the hour, drove about 3 hours south, out of the way but on GREAT roads, and found a place to crash.

The next morning which is where you see us on the train bridge in the video, everything went so much better. Literally PERFECT day with PERFECT roads. I took lots of photos of those beautiful roads so you could see them. Our new motto will always be GO OUT OF THE WAY AND DRIVE EXTRA MILES FOR THE GOOD ROADS. I love smooth roads. I will never take the road department in the USA for granted ever again, EVER. EVER.

So we're here. We love it...potholes in the road and all! It is beautiful in every way and we feel God's presence around us completely. It feels so good to be HOME, or at least what will serve as our home for this next season of our life. We celebrated Jayden's 9th birthday last Wednesday and the boys are all adjusting so wonderfully. Keep praying. I beg you. We have seen what prayer can do and we know and feel when you are all interceding on our behalf.

Enjoy the video. Make sure you watch the last few seconds so you can get a taste of what Raquel considers a perfectly good ROUTE. ha

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