During our first few weeks in Zambia, the boys’ playtime often centred around the airpline rides they had taken to get here. My days were peppered with comments like “Daddy, please turn off your computer…we will be taking off soon“, or “Would you like the chicken or the pasta?” Airplane rides are a big deal in a four-year-old’s life, so it’s no surprise they made an impression.
The boys still enjoy playing airplane. But recently another theme has started to pop up. More and more we can see the routines from their school day showing up in their games. They will take turns pretending to be Ms Mwiinga, their new teacher, while the other plays the student. And the new songs they are learning are now a regular part of our soundtrack. As I write this, the boys are in their rooms for quiet time, and I can hear Caleb singing songs from morning chapel. “Ho-ho-ho-hosanna,” he sings, then with each verse calls out instructions to an imaginary audience. “Just the girls!” or “All together now!”
One of the big questions for us when we arrived here was how the boys would do in their new school. They loved kindergarten back in Canada, but there is a lot for them to adjust to here — new routines, new sights and smells, accents that can be hard to understand, the energy-sapping heat. But, in spite of a few anxious mornings when they were hesitant to leave mom and dad, they have done incredibly well. By the time we pick them up from school (which consists of a thirty second walk from our front door), the nervousness of the morning is forgotten and they are chattering away about the events of the day.
Today marks the end of our first full week living at MICS, and the boys’ first full week of school. There is still some more settling in to do, for us as well as the boys. For them, there are names to learn, friendships to form, and Tonga words to decipher. For us, there are still some things to unpack, still some shelves to build to put those things on, still some quirks to figure out on a stove where each burner has its own unique personality. But every day we take another step towards feeling settled. It has been a good week. And this place is starting to feel like home.