Friday, May 21, 2010

Long time friends

I am not going to ask if you can stand another blog about friends because I am going to write about them anyway :)

After leaving SC we headed to NC to visit my roommate Lisa and her family. The funny part of this story is that when Lisa and I were roommates in college, I was dating Todd and he was living next door to a former classmate of his Kevin. We decided they would make a good match and set them up. we are 20+ years later and they are married with three kids. It was great to be able to have that much history together. There are so many memories.

Not only that our kids seem to get along great as well, even though we have only seen them three times since the kids were born. We both have girls the same ages and they hung out together like they have known each other all their lives. Toley and Mary Kathryn are in the same grade, as are Pooh and Sarah. It was great fun. Lisa and Kevin's daughters even teased and joked with Z-man like he was their brother. And then there are the two little................lets call them balls of energy..........that we each have.
Joshua and Kik were two peas in a pod. Their ages differences were vast, but man did they have fun together. Kik had an opportunity to be a big brother to Joshua. He didn't do the greatest job, but it was fun watching him try and teaching him some things.

Lisa and I, of course, spent our time chatting and catching up. We have a lot in common and so many memories to discuss. She and Kevin were great hosts, allowing us to park our "home" in front of their beautiful house, and just take over. I had a hard time getting Lisa to let me in the kitchen. She just cooked up a storm and fed all of us with ease. So sweet of her! and yummy too! It was a great visit!

After we left the Lech's we made a few side trips that I am hoping someone will write about SOON! During the first week of May we visited the Roberts. We met Joe and Jen in Germany. They were our neighbors in our tight knit apartment building in Garmisch. We have been friends ever since. They have 7 kids and when we come to visit the house is FULL! But, we all love it. The kids make due with sleeping wherever they can find space and the air is always filled with joy, albeit loud joy! Everyone gets along. This time was no different. Cooking for a large bunch is always on the forefront of our minds and we all spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

The Roberts girls are our girls ages and they have a lot in common. They have a tight bond and I am so grateful for wonderful, lifelong friends. Z-man usually gets involved with all the little boys and is all the better for it. Kik fits in perfect with the Roberts boys, ages 9, 7, 5. He finds a little something in common with each of them and they are wonderful to him. The last two Roberts are sweet Grace and little Ben. They are 3 and 1 and are a precious addition to any of the groups of kids. Here is a silly picture of Pooh, Taylor, Grace, Toley, and Emma enjoying a nice and lumpy rest.

I also had a picture of the adults, but it was taken at about 9:30 PM after a long day and all four of us do not look so, you will have to use your imagination! :)

We usually spend our time baking, hanging outside (the boys looking for anything that creeps and crawls), sightseeing in the DC area and having some light conversations about recipes or friends we have in common OR some deep discussions involving our children or the Bible. There never seems to be a lack of things to discuss. We learn a lot from each other and we are blessed to know them.

Lisa and Jen are such dear friends of mine and it was hard to leave both places. One because they are both so sweet and two because they both STINK at keeping in touch :)

It was hard to leave Lisa because we live so far away and we don't see each other often, so I knew it would be a while until we got a chance again. We didn't get nearly enough chatting time in. And Jen because she and her family are moving to a time zone 10 hours away for two years. It will be difficult not to have Jen around to chat with and get advice and encouragement from.

Again, another blessing on this year long trip. It has been nearly 10 months and my heart is full with all the friends that we have seen. Life is Good, God is good- all the time!

XO Mom

Friday, May 14, 2010

End of FL, GA, and then SC

We have been blessed yet again by another visit with friends.

After leaving Tampa we had a quick stop for a day at Disney. Yes, again! We did a volunteer day and got a free day at Disney, so we used it before we headed out of FL. We had a tough time deciding which park to go to, but finally decided on MGM/Hollywood Studios. It was fun, but not half as fun as when you are with family. They were missed.

Kids in front of Hollywood Studios cool matching shirts thanks to ReRe and PopPop!

We headed straight up to Jacksonville FL after a long day in Orlando. There we got a chance to spend two days with the Gapinski family. Dad and Matt worked together at Ft. Bragg a VERY long time ago and we were at each others weddings.

The kids posing for a group shot! Andrew, Z-man, Kik, David, Toley, Anna and Pooh.

Matt, Nina and their three kids welcomed us right in and we had such a wonderful visit. Nina and I hadn't known each other well and hadn't seen each other since they were married back in 1990, but got along great as if we had been hanging out for years. We had a lot to talk about and enjoyed watching the kids get along so well. Andrew and Z-man entertained each other with games, sports and watching RV (very funny), Anna and the girls entertained each other with crafts and card tricks. But, their youngest David gets the kindest award as he taught Kik how to play baseball! He was very patient and kind and he and Kik got along very well.

We stayed an extra day, parking our big rig outside their home for all the neighbors to enjoy! It was a great visit and we all vowed not to make it another 20 years before we saw each other again!

Next was a stop up to Savannah to see another friend from Germany. Chip and Kelly Hester gave us a warm welcome and a GREAT dinner. They live in a beautiful home and neighborhood and it was a lot of fun to see them after so many years. The visit was short, but the time of fellowship was sweet and their kids and ours had a lot to reminisce about Germany.

Next stop, Charlston, SC. What a great town. So much history and lots to see and do. We took a drive down to Ft. Moultrie. This is an old fort built during the Revolutionary war to stop the British from entering into Charlston. Ft. Sumter is on an island a little distance away and between the two of them the Confederate Army could guard all of Charlston from the water during the Civil War. It was very interesting to hear about the history and hit the visitors center for all sorts of information.

After we were done touring the fort, we drove down to the water front and the boys went on the USS Yorktown , an aircraft carrier. While we were there, the Blue Angels did a show and it was AWESOME! They flew over the ship and what seemed like the whole city of Charlston. Man are they loud, but just amazing. we stood in awe at how close they came to one another and the formations they did. Just...............way cool!

The girls holding up the bridge. Good thing we were there! :)

All in all a great couple of days.

more friends to come..................

Monday, May 10, 2010

Immokalee Mission Trip

Ok so about a month ago (yes it’s been that long) the youth group from our church in Marquette came down to Florida to go on a mission trip in Immokalee, FL and Toley and I were able to join them! Although Toley made every possible attempt to get out of it, I was pretty pumped. I was going to be able to see some of my friends AND get out of cleaning the new trailer. Definitely a win-win.
So on Easter Sunday after church Mom and Dad drove us down to meet up with everyone. The house we were staying at was pretty sweet. It was an old ranch that was used to house “missionaries”, such as ourselves, that came to work with a local Habitat for Humanity-ish organization called I Hope. After we got settled in we drove into town to pass out flyers for the three day VBS we were holding at a local church. We did this for about an hour and then headed to our youth pastor’s, Passa Dave, parents’ house for dinner. It was a great night to relax, catch up and, um, doing each other’s hair.

We got up bright and early the next morning, although not as early as one would like with 13 teenagers. We then headed to the I HOPE headquarters to get our orders for the day. We were tasked to fix up a home that got pretty beat up during Tropical Storm Fay in 2008. It turned out to be pretty fun. The guys of the group got to rip up most of the floor in the house. Our display of sheer power and muscle was a sight to behold. We ended up cleaning the house the whole week. We got to paint, clean the bathroom, power wash the house, scrape glue and destroy hornets nests! The house looked great by the time we left.
That night we headed to the church to prepare for our VBS. After getting ready and setting up equipment and eating dinner we waited for the kids to show up. And we waited some more….and waited. Eventually we realized no one was coming. We then took some time to sing and pray and we realized how we needed to just fall back on who God is and His will instead of our own plans. It was great to have some quiet time after all of the activity of the day.
Tuesday we had another “early” start and went to work on the house. We spent the morning continuing our renovations and headed back to the ranch after lunch. That evening we changed our plans and got to go pass out Bible tracks at an apartment complex. We were introduced to a local guy who had been witnessing on the streets of Immokalee for years. So he gave us the low down on what we would be doing and we split up to go talk to people. Now out of the thousands of people that live in Immokalee, about 12 of them are white. So just about everyone spoke either Spanish or Creole. Fortunately, for those of us who spoke Spanish, talking to people wasn’t too difficult. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of those people. But both Toley and I did our best and were able to have conversations with a few people. Well at least I did. Toley is shyer than shy so she doesn’t talk all that much. It was great fun.
Wednesday was our last day, so we finished up on the house, took some photos to prove we actually worked and headed to the beach in Naples! The beach was pretty sweet, albeit crowded. Saw tons of fish, diving pelicans, took a walk down the beach, and talked about our reactions to seeing Jesus. It was great! That night, the church we were working with was having their weekly dinner and Bible study for the kids in Immokalee. We got to take over the K-5 group and have the little VBS we had been hoping for. I got to be in charge of the games! So we ran around and played some Pac man, which the kids loved! Then we had music time, a little skit, and a small message. It was pretty sweet!
We met our parents back up in Orlando the next day. It was such an awesome experience. God did some amazing things and Toley and I really learned a lot! I’m so thankful we had the opportunity and would do it again in a heartbeat!