Jul 9, 2008
Wow! What a trip! Where to start? Since this convention was going to be taking the place of our family vacation, we decided to combine the two. This time I opted for a simpler 'take it as it comes' approach, instead of the highly structured Disney;and vacations we had taken in the past. I am so glad we did.
I was able to score a generous amount of time off, so we were in no real hurry. We just had to be at out host family's home by Thursday night. Since we left on Tuesday morning, we had plenty of time. We wanted to take hwy 101 this time just to see the sights. Best vacation decision we have ever made.
The drive down was great! Our first stop was a quick view of the Willipa River. It was calm and peaceful, but there was so much more to see, so off we went. Once we saw the Pacific I knew the longer drive was worth it.
We stopped a couple of time along the way just to see the ocean. And then it was on to Newport, Oregon for the night. While in Newport, we hit the Oregon Coastal Aquarium, The Wax Works, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, and something called 'Undersea Gardens'. They we all really cool, but Finn freaked out a little in Ripley's. From there, we kept driving South into California. In northern California we could see the haze from all the wildfires. It was so dense in some places you could look directly at the Sun in a 95 degree afternoon.
Finally, after about 30 hours of driving, we met our host family for the first time. Let me just say I was deeply touched and humbled by their overwhelming generosity. They are a family of 5, of very modest means, living in a small 2-bedroom town home. They moved themselves into a single bedroom, so we could have the master bedroom. They even parked their car on the street so we could have the garage. We tried to refuse, but they would not hear of it. They made us dinner and kept asking how the service is in Arabic territory and how the convention was going (they were part of the Spanish congregation). I think this was the single greatest example of selfless giving I have ever seen in my adult life. We feel like we are part of the Morales family now, and can't wait to see them again!
The convention itself was awesome. Though I must admit that after three days of Arabic, I was glad to hear some English again! We could only understand about 20% of what was being said, but it was still a amazing experience. We will be going to the English language convention later this year in Tacoma, just to get the spiritual benefit.
One night everyone from our group, and all their host families, we invited over to another families home for dinner. They grilled a ton of burgers, hot dogs, and had so much food I ate until I was nearly sick. Then they cranked up the music. Did I mention all the host families were Hispanic? Because, holy smokes, to these people know how to throw a party! We've never had anything like this back in little old Snohomish. We danced until well after dark and then headed back home (that is, the Morales' home).
The next night, a bunch of families took just our family out for pizza. That was very fun too! Of course, this was the 'funnest thing' we did according to Finn. They had video games, pizza, chicken, and lots of loving friends who spoke little English. But like the man said, a smile is something everybody everywhere does in the same language.
Then, all too soon, it was time to go home. The trip home had a few more stops for fun, but we will always remember this family adventure. I hope we can go again very soon to meet our new family members again!