Well I have to admit that it has been a crazy couple of weeks. Spring Break season is finally coming to a close. Actual Spring Break for us here at Ave Maria was two weeks ago but lucky me got to have an extra four days off. I’ll get into that later. It’s definitely been a long few weeks and I’m feeling very drained and exhausted lately. But a lot of that is due to all the fun that I’ve had.
Spring Break started off a little tough right off the bat with my debit card info being stolen. It took pretty much the whole week of break for a new one to be sent out in the mail leaving me with only $14 in cash to my name. But I didn’t let that stop me! Not many people stuck around Ave for break but I did have plenty of opportunities to hang out with those who did. We all got together and went to the beach twice! The first time we went to a really nice beach in Naples called Clam Pass where we soaked up some rays, played frisbee and played soccer.
The second time I went to the beach was a little more exciting. We all got up early and drove two hours up to Siesta Key in Sarasota. It was definitely one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to and the sand was so soft and light. I took a particularly great nap on the beach but we also had a lot of fun playing volleyball, swimming and having lunch in town. It was definitely a resort town full of tourists but the place was gorgeous. We all had so much fun and we all soaked up some rays. For the first time in a while I had actually gotten a little darker than normal. Super fun day with a lot of great people and I’m already looking forward to the next trip up there.
The best part of staying here at Ave for Spring Break was the chance to hang with some students that I usually don’t have the opportunity to spend time with. Believe it or not-as small a campus as this is-there are still plenty of folks that I haven’t had the chance to speak with yet. So I’m thankful that some of those folks were also stuck here for break and I got to know them a bit better.
Now the Friday of Spring Break I took the three hour drive up to Orlando because my family was flying in from Denver to visit!!! I was so excited to see them and that drive felt like it took forever. As an added bonus my Grandma was actually also flying in from New York! I actually can’t remember when the last time I saw her was. She was the first one I picked up from the airport. We went and had a nice dinner while we waited for the rest of the family to fly in. I was really really happy to see everybody. I forgot how much I missed my crazy family.
What happened next is totally typical of my family. We got lost trying to find the resort in Orlando we were staying at for the next few days. After 2 hours of driving around, going to two different wrong addresses and finally calling the place to ask for directions, we made it. We didn’t actually get settled in till after midnight. It was stressful and a little ridiculous but also hilarious and a great way to start vacation. We had lots of plans for the next five days and the next day we woke up early to head to our first destination: Disney World!
Our fist full day in Orlando was spent at The Magic Kingdom. Pretty much my favorite park at Disney World. Those of you who know me, know that I love Disney and LOVE Disney World. Walking around theme parks with my family is definitely an adventure in itself. Between my dad having no patience, my mom always walking off towards something without telling us, and the rest of trying not to lose grandma in the crowd, standing still and waiting in line was actually a relief sometime. Nevertheless, we all had a fantastic time in the happiest place on earth. We got to see the parade, ride all the best rides, see the best shows, and even meet Mickey Mouse!
The day after our Magic Kingdom adventure we actually did something that we’ve never done before which was go to Universal!! We’ve been to Disney World before when I was little but we’ve never been to Universal so we were all super excited…which only added to the frustration when my car broke down literally in front of the Universal gate.
It was totally embarrassing and security even had to come and talk with us since I was blocking the gate. But what else can you do when your engine starts smoking and freaking out? Well eventually my dad decided to wait for the tow truck to come and grab it while the rest of us went into the park. It actually didn’t take too long for it to come and my dad caught up with us pretty soon. Despite the tough luck we still had a great day at the park.
We were lucky and speedy enough to get through both Islands of Adventure AND Universal Studios. Both parks had their good points. Islands of Adventure had the amazing Spiderman, Jurassic Park and Hulk rides BUT Universal Studios had The Simpsons World and the Transformers ride. If you know my family then you know that we LOVE LOVE LOVE The Simpsons. I suspect that one of our favorite things was walking around Springfield and visiting all the shops and places from the show. Dad and I got to have an actual Duff Beer from Moe’s Tavern and the Simpsons ride was one of the best.
The next day we all crammed into the rental car and headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios which is our second favorite Disney Park behind the Magic Kingdom. Specifically we love the Aerosmith roller coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is our all time favorite ride. I love the movie theme of the park but it is smaller than the magic kingdom and therefore felt a lot more crowded. Best part of the day was probably getting to take pictures with Mickey Mouse. IT was great because we caught him right after he took a Cheesecake brake so he was in good spirits. We ended the day by catching the totally awesome Fantasmic show.
Now after three days of walking around theme parks my feet were killing me. The next day we decided to just take a break and relax which was just what we needed. I was in especially low spirits because my car problem just seemed to be getting worse. It supposedly had gotten fixed but when we went to pick it up, the same problems started happening so it went right back to the shop. This meant that it would not be done by the time we would be leaving Orlando to head down to Ave.
So the next day we packed the little rental car with the six of us plus all of our luggage. I was truly amazed that everything fit. As crowded and cramped as it was, it felt like the three hour drive went by a little faster then when I was on my way there. Which was great because I’m telling you that car was stuffed full and not very comfortable. But in the end we made it back to Ave and I finally had the chance to show off where I’ve been spending all my time the past eight months.
I gave them the whole tour and was able to introduce them to my teammates and so many of the students that I work with. We all had a blast and they thought the campus was beautiful. After the tour they headed to their hotel in Naples and I went to bed because honestly I was still pretty exhausted from our adventures in Orlando. The next day I didn’t get to see them because I did actually have a lot of work to catch up on plus I had my bible study and discipleships that I refused to miss. As hectic as it was getting thrown back into things right away it also felt good to be back. I know I was only gone for a few days but I really missed Ave and it was great to see all the students back again after Spring Break.
I did get to See the family one last time though before they had to leave. I went to see them at their hotel and we had a lovely final dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. You all know how much I love the Cheesecake Factory. The next morning they headed back home and I miss them dearly already. It was definitely a crazy vacation but he had a lot of fun and it reminded me that as lunatic as my family can be, at least there’s never a dull moment and there’s always something to laugh at. Love them lots!
On the more unfortunate side of things, my car is heading to the graveyard. It turns out it would cost around $2,000 to fix and that’s just not worth it with all the other problems that it has. So I’m officially stranded in Ave until further notice. I mean it’s exciting to start looking for a new car but I already have so many other things to worry about that this just adds to stress. Plus now I have to start paying back student loans and you all know how GREAT I am at fundraising. So prayers please please please.
The past week has been just about getting back into the swing of things. No real complaints and we’ve had some good times. We had another community brunch for people who actually live in the town of Ave Maria last Sunday. It was mostly to thank those who supported us in the past with SEEK but it was also a chance to look for new supporters. This time was different from our last brunch because this time we had some students come in and give testimonies about SEEK and about their work with FOCUS. It was so wonderful to see some of the fruits of our labors. Good to know we’re actually good for something around here ha.
This past week was also very exciting because it was the Feast of the Annunciation which commemorates the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he informed her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ. And When I say feast, I mean FEAST! The University went all out with music and food. I stuffed myself with steak and potatoes. The event was made even more special thanks to a few folks from FOCUS headquarters paying us a visit. Specifically they were here to start preparing for Summer Training. It was really really nice to see them actually. Being here at Ave it’s pretty easy to forget that there are other missionaries in other places doing the same things we are. Good conversations and experiences were had while there were here. It made me start to get excited for training.
Last thing I promise. I just wanted to mention that this past weekend was the Blackout Highlighter Dance. I just have to say that it was the most fun I’ve had at a dance here at ave. They basically took every light bulb out of the ballroom and replaced it with a black light. They also provided highlighters and played sum bumpin club music. I had a great time and there was just enough people there that it was fun but didn’t feel crowded. Great job people who planned that. Great Job.
Now it’s just back to the daily grind while also looking for a new car. Any suggestions are welcome but remember I’m on a missionary salary so nothing crazy. Prayer are greatly appreciated as this Lent comes to a close because it has been a long one. Prayers for my car search, prayers for my fundraising, prayers for my students, prayers for me, etc. Lots of prayers would be wonderful. Look for my next blog when I’ll talk about Easter! Thanks!