Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Five days and counting...

Hey there,
I hope all of you have had a nice summer - I know with the heat everyone around here is looking forward to the fall. I leave for Beijing in five days!!!!! I am a bundle of nerves, excitement - tons of emotions as I pack and prepare to leave. It's tough moving in a few suitcases but I guess that will be a good excuse to do some shopping once I get there. :)
My summer has been great. It started with a trip to Bermuda and let me tell you - a cruise is THE BEST way to start a vacation! We picked Castro up and headed for Norfolk, VA where we cruised the Atlantic for 7 days to and around the Bermuda islands. Bermuda is pretty beautiful and the pink sand beaches were nice but to tell you the truth... the cruise was the best part. An ocean view from the room, five course dinners every night, a pool - I was totally stressed trying to get everything packed and ready from my classroom because we left for Bermuda the very next day but five minutes on that ship and you are not thinking about work anymore!
Laura and Shay had their precious baby Braydon while we were on the ship at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, May 31. I had called several times waiting for the good news and to celebrate - Castro and I had champagne and cigars on one of the top decks. I was a little sad when the cruise ended because I knew with summer starting - I had a lot of changes coming - but the trip was more than worth it and I would feel quite lucky to begin next summer the same way.
An eight hour drive home and Castro and I celebrated Daddy's birthday with the family. It was my first time seeing Braydon and he is too cute! We had a good time, church the next morning, Sunday lunch with everyone and then the work week started. Castro had work to do on his masters and I had errands like crazy to start getting ready for China. Well, errands and some beach time too! The weekend came and we took off for Edisto - one place I really wanted him to see before he went home to Spain. You can't leave South Carolina after four years and not go to Edisto once! By the end of the weekend, we had been there twice... :)
Castro left on Monday and I was sad to see him go of course. I wish he could have stayed longer but he needed to get home - and I would be going to Spain in just three weeks!
I spent the rest of the week with Liesle, Laura and my nephews and Carl was in town too. We hung out a good bit, listening to music, etc. and then on Thursday Kristin and Holly came for the weekend. We had a good time and even made it for a night swim in the river! We went to Harold's on Saturday night which always proves to be worth the trip to Yemassee and we had some beach time too. Once they left I was packing full time to get moved back into my parents house. It was a smooth move (minus the copperhead I found IN my bedroom) and before I knew it, I was living at home again. One last quick trip to Edisto to see Ann Marie and I was on the road again.
We soon took our annual trip to Montreat for the fourth of July weekend where Anne Graham Lotz spoke. I always love these days with everybody in the mountains as it is not only spiritual renewal but just good, relaxed family time too. We stayed in Georgia Lodge with the Bennett's and there was a lady there who had been a missionary in Brazil for 35 years. She knew of several missionaries who had traveled to China and she got me all excited about moving again!
On the day that everyone went home, I drove to Charlotte to catch a flight to Spain. I was more than excited and even though I had some flight problems (DO NOT EVER FLY THROUGH PHILLIE IN THE SUMMER!) I made it there just 8 hours later than expected. This was a much shorter trip than last summer. It was good to see Castro and we spent some time in Madrid before catching a bus to the southern part of Spain for the ferry to Morocco. Even though my luggage hadn't come in - Castro assured me there was nothing I could possibly need in Morocco and he was right. I had the clothes on my body, some extra t-shirts and my toothbrush and that was about it. But it did turn out that I needed nothing else. This country was so different than anything I had ever experienced - third world like Guatemala but still different. It was my first time in a Muslim country and my first time in Africa. We spent the days traveling and touring and the nights sitting at cafes having Moroccan tea (Whiskey Morocco) and cafe con leche and wathing the people. It's funny in Morocco - no one sits with their back to the street. Everyone sits so they can watch what is going on. We had a lot of laughs as we were fighting exhaustion some what, some time on the beach which we shared with five camels, some time shopping in ancient winding streets, romantic dinners and the list goes on. All in all, it was pretty amazing. We left on the 11th of July and I realized that by the time I am in China on July 31st, I will have done four continents in 20 days. Not bad for the average traveller... :)
Back to Spain and we had some time in Vitoria and San Martin. The festival in San Martin is more than fun and I highly recommend it. It was good to see familiar faces and I enjoy Castro's family so much. Everything about the trip was perfect - it just ended too fast. Two weeks just didn't seem like enough time! It was hard leaving but I hope to be back there next summer and Castro and some friends are planning a trip to Beaufort for Water Festival - how much fun will that be?
I spent one night in Charlotte with Kristin, Holly and Jenny and then started making my way towards Beaufort. Grandma, Aunt Julie, Uncle Jimmie and Mary Jane were all here when I got back. We spent a few days visiting and now it is crunch time! I am spending some time each day with my family - because that is more important than anything - and with the rest of the time I am preparing. I feel the pressure of not getting everything done even though I know I will. I am nervous, constantly praying - and I am amazed at how quickly my feelings change about this next step in my life. I can go from being pretty sure I have lost my mind to feeling on top of the world in less than 60 seconds. The only drawback is distance from those I love... I hope to update this site weekly and ya'll keep in touch too! My next entry will be from China!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)