This one subject has caused more heartache and more difficulties than all of the other subjects combined relating to my move. I think that it is time to broach it here.
It had always been planned for me to go back to New Zealand in February 2009, timed to enable me to attend the 80th birthday party for my father and at the same time pick up my girl, Tineke and bring her to France to live with us. Rebekah had already strongly indicated that she wasn't going to come to France no matter what and she was of an age that I respected her decision.
However, as I watched Joshua struggle with the French education system and the French language in particular, when I compared the French high school curriculum for senior students with that in New Zealand I came to the very difficult realisation that it was not going to work for my girls in France. Tineke entering into year 12 and Rebekah into year 13 in New Zealand were just too far into their schooling for me to impose such a huge change on them. In discussions with Walter, the girls and I, we all agreed that Joshua and I would still come back to New Zealand for the visit but that the girls would stay living with their father in New Zealand.
Aaron was not able to come with us but Joshua and I headed back to New Zealand as planned. On arriving at the airport we had one of those classic scenes where we threw ourselves at our greeting party. It was so wonderful to see the girls and Walter too. At this point, I was so grateful to have worked really hard on remaining friends with him when I had seen so many bitterly divorced couples. We were probably more in sync now than we were when we were married and it was relatively straight forward to plan the next phase together. Walter had a girlfriend in Nelson he wanted to return to and it was decided that we would sell my home, the girls and he would move there and Joshua and I would return to Paris.
House sold and the furniture already taken down to Nelson, it was time to head for the airport, the car loaded to the gunnels with the children, our suitcases and what was left of our belongings. I had no idea just how difficult this farewell would be. Fear gripped me as we drove into the airport car park and the realisation that this time I really did not know when I would see my girls again-no planned return flight this time. It was a very dark evening in every respect as we flew off back to France.
A little less than a year later, at the beginning of 2010 it became even more clear that Joshua was just not happy in France and the French school system was doing him no justice. He also missed his sisters and his Dad very much and he broached the subject of going back to live in NZ. I think this was probably the lowest point in my time here in France: deciding to send him back home on his own and taking him out to the Charles de Gaulle airport. Watching him go through security and turn for his last farewell wave literally broke my heart. I cried for two days straight. Suddenly I was wrenched from being a hands-on mother to watching my children from a distance. While I still had Aaron relatively close by he was already an adult and didn't really need me in the same way and just a few weeks after Joshua's departure we were forced to live in different homes also. What happened to the usual process where the children leave the nest one by one and where you cry because the last one has finally left. How was it possible for a mother to be the one to leave first??
Many have asked me how I could possibly have left behind my children-and it is a good question that I have had great difficulty with myself as I have asked my Heavenly Father how He could expect this much of me. But I am very, very clear that He has expected it and my children are also clear on this one. There have been times when I have been tempted to throw in the towel and run home to them but it is my children, even my inactive daughter, who have encouraged me to keep on going in Paris. It is my children who have reminded me that I am in the right place doing the will of my Heavenly Father. If I had the choice to do this all over again would I do it? Absolutely!
The Lord and I have also developed an understanding-if I am to be here doing His will then would be please take special care of my children. Through this experience I have seen incredible miracles happen in the lives of my children as they have worked through some pretty major trials-childbirth, a near-death experience and 2 major earthquakes in one instance. On each occasion the Lord has reminded me that He is taking care of things on the New Zealand end and that the best thing I can do is be as obedient to His will as I can. I have learned about the power of prayer and the power of the temple as a mother. I have had to learn to totally accept that the Lord knows what is best for me and my children and that He is molding us and refining each of us.
I love my children with all my heart and I would dearly love to be able to give them giant hugs and kiss them goodnight but my sight is on the eternities-I want my children with me forever. I can't expect them to know how to put the Lord first in their lives if I am not willing to do that myself. They are in no doubt of the love I have for the Lord and that I have been willing to give up everything that I have to be obedient. The fruits of that are now beginning to finally burst forth.