Sunday, July 08, 2007

What time zone am I in?

I can hardly believe all we packed into the past seven days. Thanks to Rebecca’s passport’s arrival, we made it to Vancouver to visit my Aunt Sue and Uncle Johnny, Cousin Amy and her husband Aaron. Vancouver is a beautiful city, and the view from Johnny and Sue’s 10th floor balcony was simply breath-taking.

I was thankful to be in their presence as they cause me to think deeply. We discussed all manner of things from the environment to how to most effectively help the poor, what living in community looks like and different ways to parent. These heady discussions were often disrupted by Rebecca chiming in, and she was a welcomed intrusion. She was a wonderful traveler and loved seeing all the sights.

Sue and Johnny took us on a ferry ride, to an amazing downtown market with all types of seafood and produce and fruits (not to mention pastries, none of which I tasted, a huge regret!), but the highlight of Rebecca’s time in British Columbia was dropping things from the balcony of Sue and Johnny’s apartment. She did this with the full knowledge and encouragement of her Great Uncle Johnny. I was not aware this was happening, and by the time I caught on it was too late. First, a napkin ring, then one of Rebecca’s stuffed animal… I just didn’t have the heart to say, “No.”

I was quite glad Sue and Johnny opened their home to us during the first week of Michael and Amy’s absence because if I’d been home I’m quite certain I’d have thought of them far too much. The Teen Missions website had three video cameras with constant live feeds and I know I’d have camped out in front of the computer just waiting to see if Michael or Amy walked by.

And speaking of Michael and Amy, we flew from Vancouver to Orlando to see them before they left for their field work. We were there along with my parents and Sean’s parents, and we were all amazed at how incredibly dirty and smelly Amy was. Michael was dirty but not quite as smelly as Amy.

We were able to see them right after dinner on Thursday. When we got there the place looked like it had been flooded. Amy’s boots were soaking wet. Her pants were soaked from the kneed down, and her shirt was simply filthy. There is not other word to describe her. Filthy.

Michael was a bit better as he was wearing the dress shirt I’d packed for him and instructed him to only wear on Sundays… He smelled markedly better and I found out why after talking to his lady leader, Mrs. M. Apparently she had become disgusted with the boys; they were only washing their hair at bath time instead of washing their bodies. For seven days none of them had really scrubbed anything below the neck. So the day before we got there she had instructed them to go take their bucket and soap into the shower (a few trees in their campsite with a tarp around them for privacy), get naked and scrub their bottoms. Thank goodness one of Michael’s leaders is a mom!

Friday night was Commissioning, a candlelight service where the teams are sent out to their respective countries to begin their work. We were sitting two rows behind Amy and she looked like she was having a great time. That made it a bit easier for me to watch her go. But only a bit. When Mr. Bland, TMI’s founder and director, called, “Who’s ready to go to Belize?!” Rebecca bawled. She did not want to see her big sister go.

Amy’s team boarded a bus and went straight to the Orlando airport. Michael’s team was one of the last ones called because they were not leaving Friday night. So we got to say one last good bye to him before we left the property.

It was an emotionally draining night. Rebecca and I were crying, the grandmas were trying not to cry, my dad was trying not to die of heat exhaustion … Sean and his dad were attempting to lead us through the flooded, muddy parking lot… what a night.

Saturday morning Sean’s parents drove my parents and Rebecca to the airport. (My folks flew back to Atlanta with Rebecca; Sean’s drove the eight hours.) So within the span of 12 hours I was childless and alone with Sean. Talk about mixed emotions! I love my alone time with Sean, but the heaviness I felt knowing I wouldn’t see Michael and Amy for five weeks overshadowed my normal carefree feelings of being temporary childless.

I am still trying to recover from the travels and emotional ups and downs of the past week. More writing will come as my heart settles a bit.

Please continue to keep the traveling ones in my family in your prayers. Thanks.

Rebecca with Amy and Aaron in their house

The view from Sue and Johnny's balcony. Incredible.

Sue, Johnny and Amy took us for a bike ride on Stanley Park, an island right by Vancouver. Rebecca rode on the back of Sean's bike.

Shopping at the Granville Market with Aunt Suz

Visiting Kitsilano Beach

Everywhere we looked we saw evidences of God's majesty, like this moutain range we passed as we rode the ferry back to Vancouver from Bowen Island.