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Friday, January 29, 2010

I was HOME for Christmas....

I realized, according to my last written blog entry, I’m still stuck in Amsterdam. I finally made it out and will bring you up to speed with the happenings in my life! I am now sitting back in my living room after a full two weeks back in Kenya. I knew … but I was not expecting the F-14 speed it flew with! After the initial “Ohhh no I’m stuck in Amsterdam!”shock, I decided to make the most of it. I met 3 other girls who were traveling from Uganda to Washington D.C. They said I looked a little shell-shocked and so they offered to help me figure out how to navigate the airport, buy a coat and boots, and find our hotel shuttle. I was so thankful for them! For the next 72 hours or so, we spent our free time together exploring Amsterdam through the snow, sharing meals, and hanging out by the hotel fire. It was a neat experience how you can be strangers with someone one second and best friends with them the next. I was truly blessed by their life stories and their friendship in Amsterdam!

Once I FINALLY made it back to the states I had my first bite to eat, state side. It was pretty anti-climatic: Einstein’s bagel and cream cheese. But hey, that was my first bagel and cream cheese in a year, so I was happy! I had a 4-hour layover in Detroit (yes, I missed the Amsterdam-Detroit terror attack by just a few days!). Once I left Detroit my heart was pounding in anticipation for being in VIRGINIA after almost a year!!! And the anticipation of seeing my family was overwhelming! Seeing them again was like, well, “coming home.” That’s the best way to describe it… 6 warm hugs waiting for me! (My friend Sarah came to the airport too!). They were all wearing Santa hats-hilarious! My bags, as expected, did not make it. Africa taught me at least one thing: “Hakuna Matata”… “Don’t worry.” And so I didn’t! I knew my bags would come and I was finally with the ones love! (They finally showed up on Christmas Eve).

Once home, 3 of my best friends came over! We all laughed at how normal it was to see each other. No tears, no jumping up and down, just long amazing hugs. I needed that. It was just…familiar! We all had some amazing chicken burritos that my mom makes and I had missed out on for a year. They were better than I remembered! Go Mom!!!!! That night was filled with laughter, stories, and many hugs. My heart was full that night! I’m truly blessed.

As the week drew nearer to Christmas, the hustle and bustle began! I was quickly reintroduced to Northern Virginia. Question: Do you all ever slow down???? Geesh! Haha. I ran errands with the family, attended a Christmas party here and there, finished up shopping, tried to sleep off the jet lag, and rest in remembering that I was home with my family! Christmas Eve was super fun. My family has a tradition of the 4 kids making Gingerbread houses and then having a contest to see who’s wins. Even though we are all (almost) in our 20’s, I think we still have about 4 categories for winners so no one feels left out: Most traditional, Most futuristic, Most candy-on-without-falling-over, and most colorful…something like that. We spend hours on them as we tend to be a wee bit competitive with each other. But its fun!

We also go to explore the Gaylord hotel all lit up in her glory for Christmas! We went to the National Harbor to look around and went inside the Gaylord to check it out. Wow. Its insane! When we walked in, we noticed in the foyer a huge… HUGE yellow Christmas Peep (like the marsh mellow). We found out it was a kid’s game seeing if you can spot all the Peeps hidden throughout the Gaylord. So, being the adults we all are, we set off and found them all. They also had this spectacular water show where they told the true Christmas Story of the birth of Jesus…. (taxes!!!). It was a great night with the family!

Christmas Eve was spent spending quality time with the family and going to Immanuel Bible Church for the Christmas Eve Service! It was so great to be back at IBC again! It was a great service and I got to see a lot of special friends. Afterwards we high tailed it out of there to indulge in another Christmas Eve tradition: Outback Steakhouse. Not a bad tradition, ay mate?

Christmas morning came with traditions of it’s own. Suffering from jet lag, I of course got up at 4:30 am and tried to fall back to sleep till around 6. I came out of my room and my older brother was already up (seriously like a little kid on Christmas morning). We then made an executive decision for the rest of the family: time to wake up! :D We jumped on them while they were sleeping nicely woke them up! We walked down the stairs in age order and “ohhhhh”-ed and “ahhhhhh”-ed over the tree and the stockings. After opening the stockings we had our traditional Christmas morning breakfast complete with a “Happy Birthday Jesus” Coffee cake.

After breakfast we went to the tree and opened up presents. The most random gift was the one I gave my younger brother: A sheepskin rug…. Literally looks like a sheepskin. It kinda smelled and its kinda odd and I think everyone was thinking “Why, and how dirty is that thing???” It made me laugh to see their faces!

Christmas was just a great day to be with the family. We actually had a WHITE Christmas! My DREAM for years!!!

It was a memorable day…to remember the true meaning of why we celebrate, to be with the ones I love, and to just rest and cherish each moment. My thoughts often went to Kenya where I wondered what Christmas day was like there.

As soon as Christmas came, it went. Hustle and bustle began again.My family all piled into a car on the 27th and headed up to the city that never sleeps… NYC! Woot wooooot! So fun! We got to freeze are backsides off, eat hot dogs and pizza! We walked and walked and walked! My family had a big secret they were keeping from Megs and I. After a huge Italian dinner in Little Italy, they decided to walk towards Broadway to reveal. As we were passing the Lion King my sister and I kept saying “Remember the time we were on a safari… remember the time…..” Right then my family handed us over an envelope and inside were 6 tickets to “The Lion King” Broadway show! We were in shock and so excited!!!!

I fought my jet lag during the performance but it was so spectacular. The opening scene: goose bump worthy, let me tell you! A must see for anyone visiting New York! Watching it was like, well, being in my own backyard! :D We spent the next day in the city exploring tons of fun places. We went to Canal street to do some cheap shopping… I think I’m a little too used to bargaining in Kenya because I got kicked out of a perfume store for bartering too much…whoops!

After NYC, we headed to my Grandparents house. It was SO great to spend time with them. They have been so supportive of my trip and it was so good to just see them and give them hugs and to share with them about my journey this past year. I can’t wait to see them again when I get home.

The rest of my time was filled with family and friends all over Virginia and the D.C. area. I got to spend New Years Eve with 4 amazing woman of God. They are great and we shared TONS of laughs that night! My dad always says “When you all are together, there is always a story when you come home.” I like that that has never changed.

As my time at home came to an end, my stomach began to turn in knots. Not because I didn’t want to go to Kenya, no, I know that is God’s plan for me right now…but because I knew I’d have to leave the ones I love again. The Sunday before I left, the two sibs kids returned to college. The Monday, my older brother left for his adventures overseas. Wow, all fun must come to and end!

My mom and I spent the next few days having lots of fun together. Pedicures, shopping, talking, and drinking coffee together in the mornings. I cherish those moments! And then it was my turn. My parents brought me to the airport for another difficult goodbye. Saying goodbye is easiest when you know the “hello” you will say soon is just around the corner, but its still painful!

My flights back were less adventuresome, which I guess is a blessing. Not going to lie though… a few nights in Amsterdam due to weather would have been great. Back in Nairobi, I’ve finally battled a long journey of jet lag only to get right back on a plane and head for another adventure. I’ll update when I get back! Until then, before you fall asleep at night, please say a little prayer for me that I can fall asleep too! ;)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010