Just to give you an idea of the thought processes and intensive study that goes into this, I'll tell you about how we prepare for this at our house:
Beginning a year or so before bidding season...or maybe a little earlier...we start to get curious and Devin prints off the projected bid list. We pore over the list and start to look at some of them that we've looked at in the past...or that we've not heard much about. We do a lot of research and usually end up with about 20 places that we're curious about. This lasts for MONTHS.
After a few months of our perusing, we bring the kids in. This is where it gets REALLY fun! I use it as a super mega awesome Geography course. We SCOUR the list the Dev and I have made up. We research the history of each country--the things to see and do, the weather, the current events, the people, the culture, the customs, the language, the church/religion, EVERYTHING. By the time we're through, we are experts on pretty much everything we can know about that country without actually going there. This also lasts for months--we really take our time and dig in. Every time one of those countries pops into the news, the kids see it and we read all about it. It's so much fun!
From these studies, we all work together to pick our top 5-10. This takes many months as well. Devin and I feel very strongly that our kids need to be a big part of this, as they have to live there, too! If they are part of the choosing process, then they own it, and they're much more keen about going and participating.
This year, we thought we had our choices nailed down by May. We were pretty confident with our choices. However, we tend to have this little issue...we think we have things all planned out, and then, right at the last minute, things change. Ah well. This time was no exception. We were sitting with some friends soon after arriving back here from our long summer break, chatting with some friends about the upcoming bidding, and brought up a post that we knew was on our list, but we hadn't really considered much. They talked about how much they LOVED it--best post they've been to! So, we started to look into it, and some really amazing things happened. We felt very strongly that this was a place we needed to look into further. There were just SO many things that happened after that, there was no question in our minds that this is the post for us! It was incredible! I LOVE when that happens! Let me tell you--God cares about where we live--where we go--what we do!
Now that you have a slightly better idea of the horrors that await us every few years, and the huge amount of effort that we go to figure out where we need to be next, I'm sure you're wondering where we're going! Well, this year, this was our narrowed down final list (in alphabetical order):
Bolivia (La Paz)
And instead of just naming our future home, I'll share some lovely stock photos: