Friday, July 27, 2012

The Decision

What a week! After a couple months of interviews for various positions in Kenya, Rhonda on Monday, was offered a position as Cultural Orientation Regional Coordinator for CWS in Nairobi.

You would have thought we would have immediately had our mind made up but we didn't. (I personally specialize in waiting until the last possible moment in making huge decisions.)  Monday night was spent in long, deep conversation (sometimes just silence). But the realization quickly became apparent -- this is an amazing (I think ya'll see that word on this blog a lot) opportunity that we CAN NOT pass up. No matter the cost to finances, career (to me, obviously it is a huge career move for Rhonda), and even perhaps security. The fact of the matter is that Rhonda and I both love to travel and get away from the everyday -- this whole opportunity is right up our alley.

Truth be told Nairobi was not our top option -- matter of fact it was pretty much on the bottom -- no I think the bottom would have been a job she heard about in Damak, Nepal. While Nepal on the surface sounds interesting there is just no infrastructure for an expatriate family in Damak we were told. Thailand would really have been our choice but I am told the refugee situation in Thailand is improving which of course means less opportunity for Rhonda. The need right now is in Africa (Somali, Congolese, etc.) .

So Tuesday morning comes and I drop the news to my manager -- what a a crazy surreal experience! After 11 years with my company and previously working straight through professionally with no extended time off since I graduated college. Now I was resigning with no prospects to move 5000 miles away to a continent I had never been to before. My god! Somehow the words came out of my mouth and my manager was super excited for me. It was great to have the support.

One of the biggest obstacles I could see to this move was what we were going to do with our house. We just love everything about our house -- tucked away on a dead-end street -- our neighbors are great, the kids run outside with abandon like some kind of suburban dream from the '50s. How were we going to float keeping the house for a couple years (Rhonda promised CWS a one year commitment at least) until our return? Its easy to say luckily, but its not really all luck since Rhonda has done an amazing (there is that word again already and we haven't even left the states yet) job of developing a close knit group of like-minded families that we have grown close to. One of the couples we have become close to are able to rent our house for at least a year.  On Tuesday night we had them over and finalized the arrangements. It is great to know that close friends will be living in our residence; it makes the whole process so much smoother.

The next step was telling the kids. We figured Matthew would be the toughest. He is quick as a whip and sharp as a tack -- nothing gets by him. We also know he loves his life in Nyack -- baseball, camp, Upper Nyack Elementary, his friends, his street, his grandparents. He would take this the hardest. Ruby we figured would be easier, she is much more chill (I am sure being 2.5 years younger has something to do with it.)

H-Hour for the discussion was 3:00PM this afternoon. Got home about 10 minutes late -- and Rhonda had to leave by 3:45PM for a hair appointment so we didn't have much time -- but heck we are only telling them we are moving to Africa -- no big deal, I'm sure it will go fine! Of course not. Ruby first yelled NO! Then she hid her head in a pillow like a ostrich... Then about 30 seconds later the waterworks start from Matthew - "I don't want to go, please, please, PLEASE" Minutes and minutes of screaming and yelling go on ... "I hate Africa!!!!" Then he says "can we go for only 3 months?"  "Will Oma and Opa come?  "Will Nana and Papa?" All while screaming. It was tough. Very intense. "I can't watch the Mets!" on and on it went for at least 30 minutes. Ruby on the other hand quickly grew accustomed to the idea and moved on to playing with her new birthday toys, basically the next we heard from her was that she was getting a headache from all the screaming from Matthew. So finally we had to transition out of the living room, we needed a change of scenery and Rhonda needed to get to that hair appointment. We got into the car, dropped off Rhonda and went to the library. Matthew finally settled down and we got some books out on Kenya and then made our way to play baseball (that usually makes him feel better). Slowly as the afternoon went on he perked up. Finally on the baseball diamond I knew things we going to be alright -- his team was the NY Mets and he was playing my team - the African Elephants!

But today's amaziness doesn't stop there. Once we got home, I had to check my work email (why on a Friday night did I have to check??? who knows, just a deeply ingrained need to stay connected probably) Usually you think there would an email that would throw you into a funk, somekind of report wasn't right, or an emergency code request was needed, just enough to put a dark cloud on the weekend -- but still I NEEDED to check. So then curiously was an email from my manager. Hmmm what is I thought.. it's entitled "discussion with HR"... To my utter amazement they had a conversation about giving me an option to stay employed while IN Nairobi and working remotely on special projects. HOLY SMOKES! That would be awesome! This sounds too good to be true! Talk about an amazing start to the weekend and on this whole journey in general.

Maybe there is a catch -- but the specifics can wait until Monday -- for now I (and the family of course) can just bask in the clarity so far we are seeing from the universe in the correctness of this decision.

(just a quick note on the posts below this one.. they come from a previous blogging attempt from a couple years ago, I want to keep them there as reminder of how hard it will be to keep these updates coming once the everyday stress of life and the excitement of this week wears off...)


  1. Michael, thanks so much for sharing this (amazing-:)) news! We will miss you guys, but it sounds like the right thing to do. Please keep the updates coming!
    Love Jessi and family

  2. Very excited for you guys...and how cool is the special projects opportunity?!

    We will visit in 2013! Go African Elephants!