Moving Your Family Across the World
during a global pandemic
By Justin & Sonya La Rocco
Moving is stressful. Moving during a global pandemic is, well, different. What started out as a simple move to train for a couple of months in Asia and then move on to another country in Southeast Asia turned into something much more complicated.
In January, our family of 5 arrived at the airport loaded down with 8 suitcases excited and ready to see what God had in store for us. We arrived at our training location and quickly settled into our temporary home. Our plan (oh, how silly looking back) was to spend 12 weeks learning more about disciple-making, practicing what we were learning, and then heading to our destination. As time went on, we learned that some of our new friends would be unable to get back into their “home-away-from-home” due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases where they were to return. Not once did we think that this would slow down our family moving on.
We never unpacked fully because we were going to be leaving soon and didn’t want the hassle of having to repack everything. By mid-March, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. This is when we started to hear about more and more countries closing their borders to tourists and other visitors. The country we were in declared a partial lockdown and other countries began to ban visitors from other countries. We settled in waiting patiently yet anxiously to make our next steps. Surely, this would not last with all the borders closed.
March turned to April. April brought May and June and we still waited. As we waited, we prayed. As we waited, we studied. As we waited, we studied God’s word listening for what He would have us obey. As we waited, we continued to reach out to the people that we met before the world shut down and continued to minister with them. We have yet to make it to our destination but have instead returned to where our journey started in the US.
Kids are resilient. As saddened as they were to find out that we would have to return to the US without making it to our final stop in Southeast Asia, they worked hard with getting things ready and preparing for 45 hours of travel, which turned into 50 hours of travel. Before departing Southeast Asia, we gathered with our new friends and prayed together for the trip. We prayed for grace for other people, for each other, and God provided more than enough throughout the entire travels. There were challenges, but our kids barely noticed because it was another adventure for them.
For our family, other than the required facemasks, traveling back to the US was not much different during this pandemic time than it was traveling before the pandemic. Yes, there was much more reminding them to not touch everything that they came in contact with. We had to remind them to remove their masks before eating or drinking. There were many restaurants, shops, and facilities closed through each of the 5 airports that we traveled through, which made it a little more difficult to find a meal on the never-ending Sunday. And yes, for us, Sunday lasted for many more than 24 hours since we left Southeast Asia extremely early Sunday morning and arrived in the US on Sunday afternoon after flying for 19 hours. Try explaining that one to a 7-year-old! But, all three kids survived and had a great time in the travels. They each enjoyed trying the various foods on the flights, watching ALL of the movies, getting special toys and crafts from the airlines, and exploring each of the airports. They may have found a small amount of time to sleep during all of the excitement. By the time we landed in Florida, they (we) were all tired but excited about seeing all of their friends. The icing on the cake for us all was how many of our friends showed up at the airport in the middle of a pandemic to welcome us back home (and help gather all 8 suitcases, again).
It hasn’t been easy; especially when our hearts and passion are still in Southeast Asia, but is any adventure ever easy? We are still making the best use of our time continuing to prepare for Southeast Asia, practicing what we have learned, obeying the commands that He is putting in front of us. Our hope is in Him as we continually pray and wait for God to show us His perfect time in taking the next steps on this journey that He has us on.