From a sweet pseudo-companion from the mission, asking me what I had going on the last weekend in Feb...
How do I even begin to describe Deb (or Hna. Barry as I met her so many years ago)...
... she's the type of person that makes you feel like her best friend, even though you know she has a jillion friends all over the world and they ALL feel that way.
... she is one of the big wigs in an organization called, "Save the Children," and she travels all over the world, well, saving children. Whenever there is a disaster in any country, be it natural or manmade, you can be that she is on the first plane out to help get programs in place for the children of the area.
... seriously, she has been to countries that I can't even pronounce, let alone find on a map! (she's had to explain a few geography lessons to me over the years...)
... and yes, she is right now in Haiti, and advising Chili at the same time...
... and when she's not out saving the children, she's meeting with U.N. officials, or in U.S. Senate meeting (which is ironic, since she is from Wales), or having lunch with newly elected presidents of Afganistan, ... you get the picture.
... and yet, through all of this, she still manages to remember my birthday EVERY year (and I think I have yet to get hers right on the date in all the years we've known each other... sorry Deb!!), or come and visit when my twins are born, or just 'pop' in if she has a layover in my vicinity.
... so when she calls and asks if you have a free weekend, you can bet it won't be free for long. This was no exception. While we were talking, she informed me that she was on the computer at that moment booking me a ticket to San Francisco for a mini-mission rendezvous.
... and my dear, sweet hubby offered to be Mr. Mom at home to make it work for me (LOVE that man!!).
... so before I knew what was happening, I was boarding a plane with babe in arms (can't quite separate her from her feeding source just yet...), on my way to Sunny California for 72 hours of laughing, reminiscing, and just plane hanging out with some of the finest women I have had the pleasure of knowing.
... it was a complete blast from the past. I found myself teleported back in time 14 years (yes, I really am getting OLD!!), and a couple countries away (I was actually surprised to have hot water, realizing that we were, in fact not in Guatemala anymore, but in an American Hotel room).
As each one of us got off the plane (all of the flights happened to be within a couple hours of each other), we just started talking as if we hadn't skipped a beat since the rare talk-times on the mission, and kept right on talking until we finally separated after the weekend to our various destinations.
... and we also squeezed in a few adventures, like...
Like a trolly ride through San Fran... Deb on the left, Kristen on the right.
Sweet Nou and Kirsten sitting on the other side of me
... mapping out our day to be sure to include classics like clam chowder, cheese cake, and chocolate!!
... striking poses by the ever-present palm trees (and emailing pictures of palm trees to hubby with the question of why we are living in Tundra land when some people get to see palm trees in February!!)
... and catching a glimpse of the Chinese New Year parade (where a group of Chinese tourists in front of us turned around and started snapping pictures of baby Elizabeth... go figure!)
... and of course culminating with a walk to the famous Ghiradelli Square (If you look closely, I think you can see the heavenly lights beaming down on this most heavenly place even!), where chocolate was had by all (and it wasn't even the Guate-wanna-be-but-not-quite-getting-it-right-chocolate, either!)
... But the best of all was just being able to pick up after 14 years like we had been together just the last P-Day carving Sandia's for Halloween or relishing choco-bananos, or getting stopped in the middle of the main freeway of Guatemala because a truckload of cows got free and the cows were roaming the road, or getting necklaces cut off by crazy knife-men on random city busses...
Seriously, to think that I would never have had the opportunity of meeting these amazing women had I not gone on a mission is so sad - they are the type of women that make you want to be better just by being in their presence. They all are so incredibly talented and amazing in so many different walks of life: teachers, wives, mothers, children savers, and yet all so incredibly down to earth and centered in the gospel. After so many years apart, just having the center of the gospel in common (and some crazy, relived mission stories!!) was like coming home once again.
... Love you girlies! Thanks for making such an eternal impact on my life. Thanks for making me leave the weekend wanting to be a little bit more like each one of you and be a better me.
Can't wait for New York!!