I must be tired. My fingers feel reluctant to move. There seems to be a giant disconnect between my desire to record these memories; to the part of brain that has to remember and then articulate those details and feelings. Hopefully, as I begin to type, my brain will kindly provide the words that I'm searching for.
Shortly after our stay in Germany, back in 2007, Andrew's older sister Sara and her husband Paul went to Deutschland to visit his parents who were there serving a mission. Having heard how we had fallen in love with Auras family, Sara and Paul made their way to Ermlandweg and spent time getting to know them.
Having met 10 year old Mia, the families realized that they had daughters close in age. It was at this time that Mia and our niece Shipley became pen pals. Although it wasn't always consistent, their correspondence lasted for years and their friendship grew.
Imagine our delight when Sara invited Mia to spend a weekend in Oakley. The timing was serendipitous as it coincided with Shipley's, or should I say Sister Taylor's, missionary farewell. The Saturday before the farewell, we met up with Liz, Sara and their kids to go boating at Rockport. After that, we went to the Taylor's gorgeous home where we had tinfoil dinners/hot dogs/s'mores, etc.
Originally, we had planned to stay the night but Andrew had an early morning Church meeting. So leaving Mia behind, we went home Saturday night. I woke up early the next morning, despite having gone to bed so late. Shipley's mission farewell was at 9:00 am. Also, it should be noted that it takes an hour to get there from our home. Knowing that Andrew would be busy with his early morning meetings and considering how late we had put the children to bed the night before, I had told the Taylor's we wouldn't be able to come. I was restless and upset with my decision. Before I knew what I was doing, I was pulling my exhausted children out of bed and throwing Sunday clothes onto their bodies... most of which still smelled of campfire smoke from the previous evening.
BY SOME MIRACLE, we made it to Oakley as the congregation was singing the opening song. Both Shipley and Wickman spoke and they both did a wonderful job. I realized as I was sitting there how important it was for Eliza to be there. Seeing her oldest cousin preparing to leave on a mission inspired both of us. I could tell that she was touched. It made me cry. The Spirit was strong and I was thankful that I acted on that urge to go to Oakley. It was inconvenient, my kids were so tired (and stinky) and I found myself awkwardly sneaking Forrest's potty training seat from my car and in and out of Sara's house so he could go potty; but it was worth it! I would have never been able to get that moment or experience of supporting and learning from Shipley ever again.
Mia and Sister Taylor. :)
The icing on the cake was visiting with family who had traveled long distances to be there. When it was time for us to drive home, we reluctantly said "Goodbye" to Mia who would spend the next few days with the Taylor family. Having her gone was rough as it gave me a feel of what it would be like when she flew home to Germany. I didn't like the feeling at all. Already there was a terrible void and I was counting down the minutes... (okay, maybe I am being a little dramatic) until she returned.
West Virginia is so lucky to have such an awesome missionary headed their way!
Boating at Rockport the Saturday before.
Catching a snooze on the boat.
There's no better spot!
When I asked Mia why she had such strong arms
she informed me that she has been taking Judo/Karate lessons for YEARS!
What!?! How's that for a fun fact!
We loved being in Oakley.
It is so beautiful and the hospitality is first rate!
It is so beautiful and the hospitality is first rate!
Thank you Sara!
Another first for Mia!
She was treated to her first ever horseback riding experience!
The next day, they hit the water park.
Like I said, we were so pleased to have her return home.
While she was in Utah,
she was a welcome addition to our young women's group.
Bowling night was especially fun.
The next few photos are a bit random, so bare with me.
This boy is my baby and I love him more than I can say.
Mia was hanging out with some friends one night and looked especially gorgeous.
So I made her pose for a few photos.
Our neighbors adopted the CUTEST puppy.
His name is Boomer and we are all obsessed; Henry especially.
Flannel shirts and sunflowers!
Fall must be right around the corner!!
Little things like watching my kids build a train track together make me happiest.
Mia's final weekend here was different because Andrew took Lottie and Forrest to the cabin.
Henry and Eliza chose to stay home with us.
The cabin had been the original plan,
but Mia let us know that she wanted to spend her last weekend at our house.
She has a dear friend from Germany who is a student at BYU.
They made plans and met at temple square.
They were able to catch up with each other and explore the grounds together.
We picked her up around lunchtime and headed up to
"This is the Place Heritage Park."
It was one of the few remaining items on her summer bucket list.
To our delight, we bumped into Henry's friend Scarlett and her family.
We had the best time exploring the park with them.
For dinner that night, we took Mia to In and Out Burger.
Of all the restaurants she tried, it was her most favorite.