"Doesn't this muesli look so good?" I said, holding up the unopened box and pointing to the little window that revealed the freeze-dried berries and granola inside. While Evie and David agreed that it looked delicious I made fake-but-sincere sobbing sounds.
"It's cereal, mom." Ev said, with the sound of eye rolling in her voice.
Yeah. She should talk. Just a few mornings before she told me about a horrible dream she had. She volunteered to go back to the Millar's house to get something. She said it felt so weird being in that now-empty place. She walked slowly around and stopped in front of the picture of Ellyvan, drawn in marker on the living room wall by 4 year old Max. She almost cried in the telling of this dream.
Yesterday Aaron kept including Max in his listing of our family members using toys, "This one's Evie, this one's Dad, this is Spencer, this one can be Max and this one is David."
The Millars, our American friends have moved back to that country. The muesli was from a box of goodies they brought us from their kitchen as they packed up their home (there were also boxes of toys and Christmas decorations!).
We got to celebrate one last holiday with them the day before they left. We had an Easter egg hunt in a nearby beech tree forest. It was fun and warm and almost all the foliage was on the ground-- the dried brown leaves of yesteryear. Those and lots and LOTS of dry sticks and branches making what I'd imagined would be a beautiful stroll through a green springtime wonderland more of a crunching hike through a monotone (brown) obstacle course, but it was still fun.
In fact, anything we did with the Millars was fun. Holidays, FHE, having church at our house, yummy dinners and treats. Fun! But I never cared as much about what we did as the fact we got to spend time with them.
Because those guys are awesome. They share their history so openly and it wasn't always about major athletic achievements and (practically)perfect families. Those have been some of the blessings that have come to them because of their awesomeness. They have been through a LOT and, instead of taking the easy road and using their crises as an excuse to take whatever road THEY want, they've let their trials shape them into really good people who try to do what the Lord wants them to.
This includes being where he wants them to be and I know that they were supposed to come to Poland, in part to be a blessing for our family. I'm so grateful they came. I'm so grateful for their sweet, super sweet little boys. Baby Oliver of the squishy cheeks and beautiful blue eyes and friendly Max and his desire to help and knack for always saying the right and cutest things. Once he asked the blessing on our food and after he said "amen" he looked up and saw that Spencer was starting to climb up the stairs so he quickly closed his eyes and folded his arms again and asked for Spencer to be safe while he's playing on the stairs. Seriously sweet boy.
Ryan sets such a good example wherever he goes. When his volleyball games are on Polish TV the commentators (announcers?) refer to him as Ryan Millar and/or the "sympatyczny Amerykanin", the nice/friendly/likable American. He smiled more in one game than any other player probably in all the games combined. He's funny and kind and looks for ways to share the important things he believes. Awesome.
Then there's Suzanne. What can a person say about THAT lady? She is such a loving and encouraging mother and a sympathetic and helpful friend. She always has something she's read recently that she draws on for strength for herself or shares to strengthen others. I love it. I want to be like that. She's seriously beautiful, but not at all intimidating because she is just so real and open and friendly. Love her. Such an example of a woman of faith.
I'm grateful for the Millars and that they came and provided an extremely welcome break from feeling isolated and so far away from people who understand me. And I love that, even after having only had them as "neighbors" for about a half a year, they are now lifelong friends. That is something you don't get every day, and better than gold.