This post is well overdo, but I got kind of caught up in time and only today have I pretty much forced myself to sit down and write my last journal-type entry to this phase of my life.
So I have been back home for a little over a month now, and things have been awesome! I have received so much love from family and friends, that words can’t even begin to express my gratitude to the ‘welcome home’ type love and celebration that they have showered me with.
It’s actually because I have been hanging out with everyone and just spending some much needed time with people that I haven’t seen or spent time with in TWO YEARS, that I wasn’t too concerned about blogging and taking pictures and stuff because I just wanted to be in the moment. That said I do have some pictures below of my surprise welcome home visit that I orchestrated the last few days while I was in Cambodia (the details on that are below).
But before I get to how I got back here, I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported me on this journey, to those who wrote me and sent me care packages, to those who thought about me or said a prayer for me, to those who decided to journey along with me while in Cambodia, and to anyone else who I encountered along the way: thank you.
Peace Corps really is tough at times, but I honestly wouldn’t have had it any other way because it pushed me to be who I am currently…okay, I probably would have changed a few things, but the point is I’m grateful for the experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Thank You So Much & It Really Is Good To Be Home J
P.S. I’m not sure if I will continue this blog or not since it was largely based on my experiences within the Peace Corps, and that is now over, but who knows…I might. Either way, you can always send me a message and I’ll be sure to get back to you at my earliest convenience. And if you are a potential Peace Corps candidate and are wondering if you should do it or not, go for it! It truly is the toughest job you’ll ever love!!!
*****Now for the details on my surprise…I’ll try to be as brief as possible, with pics below*****
My family thought I wasn’t going to come home until 4th August 2013, but I actually had my flight booked for the 8-9th July. I knew this since January of this year but I just kept it a secret because I knew that I wanted to surprise them in some way. Everyone kept saying they couldn’t wait until I got home in August, and I just kept silent…but secretly screamed inside because I knew differently.
But back to the story- the day that I was scheduled to leave, I made sure that I had a calling card with me and my magicjack (which I strongly recommend to anyone who doesn’t have one, who travels a lot)…it was a bit tricky, but I managed to stay in touch with them for the most part so that they wouldn’t wonder why they hadn’t heard from me in a couple of days and get concerned.
So once I got back to America, I landed in Vegas and had an overnight layover there before flying to Birmingham, Al. In Vegas, I called my brother and told him that I wanted him to meet one of my friends at her job at the airport in Birmingham because she had a gift for my mom that I wanted him to take her.
I thought for sure that he wouldn’t fall for that (especially since I was the package and he didn’t know any details besides meet my friend at 2:30 in front of the airport and she’ll be waiting for you). I didn’t say what my friend’s name was, what she looked like or anything. My brother just took me at my word and showed up at the airport.
I knew that my plan was landing at 1:30 and so that would give me an hour to get through customs and such, and so at 2:30 I was standing near the front of the airport behind a bush, so he couldn’t see me but I could see him.
As he came close he was looking around like he was lost (as he should’ve been since I didn’t tell him any other details), and I just jumped out of the front of the building and started snapping pictures and he just stood there in shock like he was processing it all.
After we screamed and hugged, and he kept asking me what was I doing home and how did I get here and did I have to go back, we got my things put into the car and he called mom on speaker. She immediately asked him had he heard from me because I had told her I would call her later and I never did. OOppps!
He told her no and we headed the hour home from the airport/the city where he lives, to mom’s house (about an hour away).
My brother had recently bought a new car and just put rims on it, so we decided that once we got close I would get in his trunk, he would call mom out to see the new car and stuff, and then I would jump out the trunk.
So about two minutes from the house we stopped at a nearby Sonics, and I got in the trunk of the car. This was crazy because we also had to hide my luggage in there so she wouldn’t see it when she looked in the car. So it was a bit snug and Cj was extremely nervous. He thought the cops saw him putting me in the trunk and would think he was kidnapping someone, so he kept looking around and screaming at me through the car asking me was I okay. I kept laughing because he was so nervous and it was literally only a 2-3 minute drive away.
Once we pulled up he ran inside, told mom to come out to look at his car and I could hear them talking. Then I heard him say ‘come to the back and check out my new system in the trunk’, and I knew that that was my cue to get ready to jump out!
At that point, he popped the trunk, I jumped out and screamed surprise, and my mom fell to the concrete crying and screaming ‘God, thank you for bring my baby home safely’. She cried for about 5 minutes and I’m sure we made a scene because it was quite dramatic, but I never anticipated that response. She just kept hugging me and jumping up and down saying thank you. In the end, she hit my brother for lying to her and told me how nervous she was because she hadn’t heard from me, and then shortly afterwards I called my older brother to let him know I was home and everything just felt complete.
I really will never forget my mom’s response, my brother’s willingness to go along with me even though he had no details, and just the love and warmth that both my brothers and mom showed me. Much loveJ
Here are a couple of pics of the surprise:
|I was so excited I wanted to capture the moment so I asked a random person to take the picture...guess I forgot to open my eyes! Cheese :)...|
|Okay, this is better! But now it's time to do something with my toes! (In my defense, I walked around with no shoes on a lot, so now it's just time to give them some extra love and care hahaha!)|
|Packing up my things to go surprise my brother!|
|I saw him as he was walking up...I was standing behind a fake bush inside the airport at the entrance. All he saw was flashing lights.|
|Now he notices that it's me...priceless!|
|He still couldn't believe it...I pulled it off!|
|A quick snapshot before we head home|
|See the trunk that I had to sausage my way into.... It's actually pretty roomy but when you add luggage plus a person it gets kind of tight!|
|The next day on the way to church...|
God is AMAZING!!! (And I'm so blessed to have the family that I have. I love ya'll)