לאט לאט (Slowly Slowly)

2:30 PM 1 Comments

When we planned for Aliyah there were many things we expected to be wonderful (they are wonderful, and there are so many more that we didn't expect that are also) and there are things we expected to be difficult. I'd be lying if I said that nothing about Aliyah is hard. A lot of it is hard. We are living in the middle of the desert, with no car, in a community where the spoken language is not one that we speak fluently. Our family is on another continent with a minimum of a 7 hour time difference. We watch our children go to school/daycare everyday to a place where they can't communicate freely with the other children. Some things are down right HARD.

This is a פלפל ("Peel-pell")
The issue that I have found to be the most difficult—and especially the most surprisingly so—is the language combined with not having a car. This is not an issue that merely rears its ugly head when you want to ask your neighbor to borrow a pepper (פלפל by the way) or when you want to make small talk while waiting to pick up your son at school. Its not even just something that effects social interaction. By this, I mean that the very most difficult part of not speaking the language has not been a difficulty making friends, it has been losing my independence.

I fancy myself a very independent person—asking for help is not something I am apt to do very frequently. However, since we have been here, I have been severely humbled by the fact that I need help doing things that I have been doing on my own for many years. Example: doing laundry for instance (re: floor cleaner).

One of the more challenging, and even demeaning, of these tasks that I can no longer do on my own is taking care of my sick children. I not only don't speak the language fluently, but I don't have a car and am in the early stages of understanding healthcare here. This makes for a perfect storm of dependency on others to take your children to the clinic, let alone even deciding if they need to go to the clinic. We are fortunate enough to have a couple of doctors and a nurse that live in the community who have all been very helpful in helping to decide if the kids need to go to the clinic. I, however, feel like an inept parent needing to ask.

There is a lot of red tape involved in uprooting your life and becoming a citizen in another country (although it is still surprising that you can be a citizen just after stepping off a plane). There are people to see, offices to visit, eye tests to be had, bank tasks to handle, etc... Needless to say we often can not do these errands on our own. Therefore they require a lot of pre-planning in order to bring a translator (ie. neighbor) with us.

Like it or not, this is our pace now.
When discussing anything having to do with adjusting and/or getting settled here in Israel, the typical response from Israelis is: "Don't worry, לאט לאט (slowly, slowly)."  And this is true.

Slowly, slowly we will be absorbed into Israeli society.

לאט לאט we will gain our independence back.

Slowly, slowly we will get a grasp on the language.

לאט לאט we will find jobs, make friends, and settle into life here at Retamim.

However, there are things for which we began to say לאט ,לאט only two months ago, and more progress has been made in a short time than I ever could have imagined.

Yesterday our eldest son rode his "motorcycle" to a friend's house ... ALONE. Frankly I didn't think that would ever happen. Our daughter is understanding and speaking Hebrew like its not even a different language—she still has no idea that it is. And the baby has adjusted to daycare so well that he is eating, drinking, napping and playing just like all the other kids. His eyes now light up when he sees food he can eat.

When we drop the kids at גן (preschool) and מעון (daycare) in the mornings there are more days with zero kids crying than not. This is progress. Our home is coming together nicely; Adam is quickly knocking projects off the list. We are making friends and becoming involved in the community.

This undertaking is HUGE. We turned our lives upside down and inside out, but here we are—merely two months later—miles from where we started on November 19th. לאט לאט  is certainly a fair estimation. But, after just nine weeks in, I think we're doing just fine.

Thoughtfully written by:

Rachel Hopkins

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