The best laid plans...well, you know how that goes! We are sitting here at home, alone, after an oh-too-brief 24 hour period with our friends from Wichita. Upon receiving news of a family emergency it was decided that it would be best if they immedaitely returned home, much to our group chagrin.
We went over to pick up the boys from La Foret, our wonderful Conference church camp in the woods of the Black Forest in Colorado Springs where we found 3 very tired, very happy little boys. Our two plus Matthew's buddy were grubby and worn out after their week of fun. I was glad to hear that Kenny had done very well, having issues with one little boy that wasn't a real surprise to me...I guess Kenny has a little competive streak that came out during free play time when they decided to play tennis every afternoon. Kenny came away with the love for a new sport that we now must try at home! But I was also reassured that other than that, he was truly well behaved the entire time and they enjoyed having him. I was also told that he alone was mostly responsible for them winning the cleanest cabin award not once, but twice! Matthew made a new friend at camp that he thoroughly enjoyed, and he even got to stay in a yurt, which for him was most appropriate!
We arrived at the hotel and excitedly waited for our friends, with little boys peeking out the lobby windows as we waited for their car to appear. When they got there, they piled out of their car with their 4 kids and we had our 4 including Matthew's friend and it was controlled chaos from that moment on! With tons of extra helping hands...well...maybe not so helpful but trying to be...it was quick work of getting luggage upstairs. I couldn't help but sit back and marvel at how beautiful their children were. Their two oldest daughters were adopted from Matthew's orphanage a few months before we traveled to bring Matthew home and they are all a month apart in age. We last saw them when all 3 kids turned 3 years old, and here they are all grown up and big 9 year old kids.
The instant connection between every single one of us was the coolest thing to experience. It wasn't 5 minutes and we all felt as if we had just seen one another a week ago...not years and years ago. The kids were all giggling and goofing around, and the adults were as comfortable as could possibly be with each other. This is one of the most unique friendships I have ever had in my life, an incredible blessing in a million ways. Since it turned out we had such short time to share with one another I am glad there was none of the "getting to know you" stage that would have wasted the little time we had...instead we all just jumped right in to having fun with none of the expected awkwardness one would expect.
We all went for a walk at the Garden of the Gods where the rock formations provided a place for the kids to scramble up and down and burn up some energy. After dinner we went to the hotel for a swim, all the while doing continuous head counts so we didn't lose track of anyone. It was a total riot, and everyone was so well behaved it was a joy to be surrounded by all these terrific kids. I think anyone who saw our group must have thought we were totally crazy, but I know none of us adults did and we got a kick out of it. At breakfast the next morning the kids all sat at one table visiting and after about 20 minutes of getting them all set up the adults all sat down at another.
It was yesterday morning on the way to the zoo that the bad news was received and our morning of joy turned to one of sorrow as hard decisions had to be made, and the realization quickly came that 24 hours was all we were going to have together. When someone you care about receives painful news you want so badly to do something to make it better, to help them through it all...and yet sometimes all you can do is provide a shoulder to lean on, a solid and heartfelt hug, and understanding of what they need to do next. While we were all very dissappointed at our time together being cut so short, there was no doubt that they needed to return home and sadly the coming days will be very, very hard for our friends.
On the bright side though, I think we all came away from our day long escapade recognizing why we have managed to maintain this friendship long distance...it is because we are incredibly compatible and view life through the same lens. All this did was whet our appetite for more, and we are all going to do what we can to see one another again as soon as it is possible. Amazing to me how God puts such good people in your life sometimes, ones you can love so easily. And with them, it is very, very easy to love each and every one of them.
So we now have an unexpected and unplanned week ahead of us. Dominick is going to take off the days he had planned on so we can have some family time anyway. We know we have an incredibly challenging year ahead so grabbing on to days like these is important. Today we will head off to Grand Junction to do some school clothes shopping, and we sat down with all 3 boys to create a budget and make a game out of seeing if we can come home having spent less than we expect. Each has his own list of what is needed and a budget, and we will see how much less than our overall budget (which was pretty low to begin with) we can spend. Each boy has been allotted a certain amount depending upon what they need...Matthew and Kenny both have no pants and underwear and Matthew needs his special orthopedic shoes while Kenny needs shirts. Matt has an abundance as he finally fit into a bunch of brand new polos we bought 4 years ago plus we have an entire box of gently used ones to go through that we received this weekend from our friends. Backpacks were already bought so that is covered. So basically each boy has a budget of about $215 to buy 7 pairs of pants, shoes, shirts and underwear. Think we can do it?? Hahahaha! You BET we can!! Joshie's budget is $260 because he needs a bit more in the way of shirts. We'll see how it goes, but the kids think this is an awesome game and the calculator is coming along.
So off we go! A different week ahead than we planned, but surely it will be a nice one regardless. And we send much love out to those who are not with us but were supposed to be...we'd much rather be hanging with you then going to the mall!