August 5, 2009
Read back to Saturday October 11, 2008 when we had just driven into beautiful Appleton Wisconsin in the fall. Half the choir lived within one block of each other, and my hosts in Appleton gave the kids their first fireworks and s'mores experience. Just short of a year ago later- last week found us reuinted with our same host families from this church! Pulling into the parking lot was surreal in an experience where nothing apart from the tour family I live with is ever familiar. I could remember "that parking lot where the kids placed soccer", "that area outside of the church we met at as a staff deciding how to explain halloween", "that part of the grass where little Raceal and I ran accross the parking lot at full speed to collide into each other with hugs"....I recounted with Angela that afternoon how strage it was- looking at that church, remember in detail the concert, how we celebrated hers and Lindsey's birthday there, and looking back on how much has changed. How we have gone from originally a team of 10 to now a team of 7. I can picture the children playing soccer from mental photographs and I can't believe how much they've grown. And then I can picture myself there too- where I was at, the lessons I'm still learning, but the many ways in which I've grown and changed too.
My host family asked me as we eagerly spent the drive home catching up on each others lives my plans for next year. Last October I wouldn't have been able to answer that at all, and now I could talk with her about how tour has grown passions within me I never fully saw before, and the incredible sense of joy I've felt from working relationally with the kids, children, and using music with them. On the ride home she asked how San Fransisco with Josh Groban went- I had to rewind the memories of tour to last November- last November! It seems so far away now, but I had just found out I would be going to San Fransisco when I met this host in Appleton. It made me stop and slowly playback the highlights of tour so far in my mind. When you live day in and day out with someone you easily forget how much you've been through together, and really just how close you have become.
That night Lillian, Gladys (the same girls I'd had before at this stay), and Lydia now too, as well as Esther and Racheal who stayed right next door with Ang came over for paddleboat rides on the pond behind their home. Later that night Patrick and his boys joined us too for boating and smore making too. My hosts still had the picture frames the girls had made with their pictures inside on the fridge, and a photo of all of us on the mantle to remember us in prayer. The girls were so suprised that the hosts still "remember my name! And have my picture up!" as Lillian put it. I thought about how neat it must be for these hosts as we snapped more group pictures that night to be able too see us all again and to also be able to measure the growth they've seen in these children as well.
After the girls were in bed Ang, Patrick, and I went for a long walk together- it isn't until I'm in the country and can walk around at night by a path lit solely by stars that I miss the vast open sky of the country, otherwise covered up by skyscrapers of city skylines. I finished the night around the fire with two of my closest friends, talking late into the night as flames from marshmallow roasting died into fllickering embers.