We are home again! We left July 21st for Perry, Florida with some of the youth group on a mission trip and had an incredible experience. I love the kids in our youth group. I don't think they always understand the depths of our feelings for them. In all honesty, we love them as if they were our own children, which means that we are proud of them when they do really well, sad with them when they are hurting and sometimes even disappointed in their actions when they mess up. (And like kids with their parents, that probably works both ways!) Most of all, we love them for who they are...and let me tell you, every single one of them is completely different.
This group was absolutely incredible though. They worked hard and got along very well. I would take every single one of them on a trip with us again in a heartbeat. We survived a nasty stomach virus that took out 7 of our group. (I think that is the right number; it is easy to lose count when they are dropping like flies.) We survived a bus with bad airconditioning on some VERY HOT traveling days. They didn't complain and even better than that, had good enough attitudes to start singing songs praising God on the very HOT bus! What a group!
I cannot tell you how tired I am though! We decorated the church building Sunday night and Monday during the day and held VBS every night. Our days were spent having fun as a group. We went to the beach, an amusement park, a state park where we took a boat ride, and a mall. Here are a few things I learned on the trip:
1. If you go to the beach, be sure to adequately put sunscreen on all exposed body parts after you have lathered up your children. I applied SPF 60 (yes, you read it right...60...my kids are pale, what can I say?) on the boys, and to most of my arms, part of my face and apparently random parts of one leg. Needless to say, I had a really bad sunburn on my left leg and my right leg was rather spotted. The tops of my hands sunburned and my cheeks and nose were pretty red too. When you are already funny looking...you sure don't need to look like a spotted, sunburned freak!
2. The tilt-a-whirl is kind of fun once, but don't push it by doing it twice in a row after the age of 30. Now don't get me wrong...I LOVE fast rides. Put me on a roller coaster and I am happy for days! However, ever since I hit 30, rides that spin in circles and I don't mix very well. Sometimes, if the carousel is going too fast, it is just too much for me. I would love to say it is an inner ear thing, but I think I am just turning into a wimp! All the spinning rides were worth it though simply because my boys loved them. When I was riding on a teacup-like-ride (that was actually a dragon) with the boys, David said, "Quit spinning it mommy. You're making me blurry!" For the laugh that gave me, I would ride any spinning ride with my kids!
3. If you are not a boat person, it is probably best not to go on a boat ride in alligator and snake infested waters. I was trying to be brave for my children and show them that these things aren't scary, but I almost lost all sense of calm when our boating guide saw a very large alligator and tried to steer closer. I was sitting at the front of the boat and not real excited about seeing the alligator (or any of his friends that might be hiding in the murky waters) up close. However, I did not have a heart attack and was once again able to get back on dry ground where there were no vermin with large teeth.
All in all, it was a very good trip. I will share a few more specific stories in the next couple of days. Brian's mom, Barbara, is here visiting and we have some fun things planned, but I will definitely try to update more now that we are home.