Well, loyal readers (er, okay, reader), this is it. We have one week left in America before we embark on our final year in Manu’a. I can’t believe how quickly the summer has flown by. If we have not seen you yet, I’m sorry, but we’ll be back in 11 months? Or, you can always come to our house!
Our nine year anniversary is in one week! Um. Yeah. NINE years. (What. The. What?). We leave for AmSam the next day. Two-ish days later, we arrive on Tutuila. Less than a week (hopefully) after that, we’ll be back in our classrooms. And then we only have ten short months to enjoy our time with our students and our village before we leave for good (but hopefully not, like, forever ever).
So much of this return to American Samoa is bittersweet. Leaving our family and friends for the third year in a row is somehow more taxing than it has ever been. This summer was particularly hard. Nothing turned out as I had planned (as any of us planned). I didn’t accomplish near as much as I hoped I would, nor were we able to spend time with all the people we hoped to see. Many of our grand plans were scrapped completely because of the devastating loss of a loved one, but I am truly thankful to God that we were home to share in that time of sorrow and hope with our family and friends. We also said goodbye to the town where The Beard and I spent most of our childhoods, which proved to be a more emotional task than anticipated. Of course goodbyes are never easy, but goodbye-forevers are, as you probably know, pretty much the worst.
On the brighter side of things, we spent the summer in the company of our closest friends. I was able to hang out with my frieniece so much that she totally knows who I am 100% of the time, and better yet, I’m pretty sure she loves me!, which is the best thing maybe ever?
We were able to go to Kentucky to see my mom’s new house, meet my new niece and my other brother’s girlfriend, and just have a generally jolly ol’ time. Because it makes my mom so happy, we also agreed to take a family photo, on the condition that it had to be the best family photo of all time:
We also got to go to Smokefest 2013 in Huntsville, where Wes helped prepare yet another bacon explosion and I participated in an 18″ chili-cheese hotlog eating contest (and did not come in last place!). There was a great deal of 1980s rap and power-ballad karaoke, we got to catch up with several old friends we haven’t seen in years, and we played in a pretty serious corn-hole (aka bean bag toss) tournament (in which I came 2nd place!). Overall a pretty decent weekend.
We did lots of other things, too, like…eating fresh fruit, watching movies in theaters, drinking iced coffee, eating salads, gettin’ our (okay so just my) nails did, eating Mexican food, playing a million games of Dominion/Settlers/Seven Wonders, seeing Phish in Alpharetta for the first time in three years, eating hot-wings, going to English-speaking churches, catching up on YouTube, eating fresh veggies, shopping at huge stores, and so many other food, music, or game related activities. Oh, and I swam in a pool!! (but could not bring myself to wear a bathing suit…)
So okay, yes, while this summer will be forever marked by a painful tragedy, I was able to share the weight of it with so many people that I love, and I just want to thank y’all for that (to those of you who supported me, but especially to those of you who allowed me to support you). Being here was a great reminder of how sturdy and beautiful a community we have back home in Georgia and that really makes a difference as we prepare to say goodbye to Samoa.