9 days before we flew out, my sister threw Robbie and me the sweetest send-off party made complete by all our best friends gathered in one space (including an *amazing* surprise visit from my best girl, Rachel, who flew in to see me from Ohio– you should have seen the look on my face when I saw her, not to mention the tears), backyard picnic tables topped with yellow flowers, home-grilled burgers, sentimental words and happy tears around a fire until late into the darkness, ending with worship together to our Jesus. Happy, happy, happy is all we could be. Definitely the best way to end an amazing summer in Omaha.
We were really busy our last week in Omaha trying to squeeze in time with everyone before our final goodbye (It may seem dramatic since it’s more like a “see you in 5 months” kind of a goodbye– but when you do life with and see these people every week, five months is a long time). We got to have some of the sweetest conversations with friends. Sometimes goodbyes are sweet because they force you into scenarios where you get to more easily tell people how you truly feel about them and vice versa. Our friends’ words of kindness and feelings about us are so cherished and we hold them so tightly. Gabby helped make deep cleaning my empty apartment fun, the Jasso’s, Hicks’, and Rutten’s shared 12 scoops of ice cream with us two nights before we left and then laughed and talked together on our empty apartment hardwood floor until late, Jadee spent 8 hours with me one day just laughing our hearts out, eating pizza, shopping, swimming, and making some of the most fun memories, Renee constantly made time for me on my schedule whether for lunch or spontaneous hang outs always checking how my heart was and always coming in clutch with her timely humor to make me smile, Michele and JD gifted us a travel size morning/evening devotional book we can carry with us, grow closer to God, and remember them each day, Sam and Neal and Bill loved on and prayed for Robbie every second they could before we departed, Rachel continues to check in daily to remind me she’s praying for me and stoked for me, the Newhouse’s always move around their schedule to make time for us, Quinn is regularly texting me from North Carolina encouraging me she’s praying for my small intestinal healing. There’s so much more and I don’t mean any meanness by forgetting to write down a person’s thoughtfulness. We are so appreciative of every way our people have gone out of their way to show they love us and have thought of us. I loved and hated saying goodbye to one of my best, Jadee, as she left for Thailand with her husband and a small team who are saying “Yes” to seeing a bigger picture of what God sees and what breaks His heart. I love Gospel friendships that are a constant ache to be in one place together, yet a constant celebration of pushing one another to do the Lord’s will, whatever and wherever that may be (Quinn– that’s you too!). I love you both so much!
I said goodbye to my amazing sister who hosted us in her (and her husband’s) home for the week before we left and accommodated us so well. She is such a servant and truly our biggest fan. We left with conversations about how we will both be striving to do the Lord’s work no matter where we are or how far apart we are. We love her and Jeff so much. We have been talking about all the people we love so much recently. And finally we gave some long hugs to our Karen friends, the people our hearts beat for.
Tuesday, August 8th at 3 in the morning came way too early. Robbie and I were exhausted from the frantic last minute- “what if we forget something?” packing the night before and thus only 3 hours of sleep before we left for the airport. Quite honestly I sat in the front seat of my sister’s car trying so hard not to puke. I felt so sick– most likely a combination of lack of sleep, anxiety, and excitement. Robbie and I squeezed Bretty so tight and we were off on our 5am flight to Chicago. Then to Toronto for an 8 hour layover. I started and finished editing the wedding I shot on Saturday while in the airport there (record editing time! haha). And then a 6.5 hour flight to Dublin.
Of course we got zero sleep on any of the flights or layovers, so by the time we made it to Dublin (at 5:30am, mind you), we had slept a grand total of 3 hours in a span of about 40. Anyone close to me knows my immune system is terrible. All the chaos of the last couple weeks and that day of travel finally and unsurprisingly caught up to me. We got off the plane in Ireland and I had a full blown sinus flu complete with body aches, fever, sore throat, runny nose, and pounding headache. We couldn’t check into our hostel til 2:30pm, so we were going to have to try to stay up and make the most of this full day in the city, regardless of my health.
Our hostel in the city, Abbey Court, let us take advantage of their free breakfast around 7:30am even though we wouldn’t be officially checked in until later, which was magical for us to just have a place to store our baggage and eat something free. haha Then the kind lady at the front counter told us about the hostel’s “hammock room” that we could go lay down in for awhile. You better believe we took advantage of that. We both fell asleep in these hammocks hanging from the ceiling for only less than an hour, before we tried to put our best foot forward and tag along on a free walking tour of the city.
While on the walking tour, we made friends with a girl we had run into earlier in the morning when we both had arrived to the hostel around 6am and both desperately needed to use the restroom. haha Her name is Milagros, but she told us to call her Milly. She’s a 22-year old from Argentina with dreadlocks and the sweetest spirit. She doubted her English abilities, but she communicated amazingly. Before the tour started, we got to talk for a long time about our travels and what she’s doing. She is traveling solo for four weeks on her winter break from school (it’s winter now in the Southern Hemisphere) and she’s studying to be an actress. She wants to do independent films because “they’re deeper and mean so much more” than Hollywood stuff. She teaches very basic English to little kiddos and you could tell she must be the best teacher! Milly was this sweet answer to prayer for me– to being open to new friendships abroad and to not be so closed off to fleeting relationships. (I’m a “Know-everything-about-you” kind of person, but I recognize that there’s still depth and impact in chance conversations. Just want to use them wisely!) Robbie and I dipped out of the walking tour early after seeing the Dublin Castle and City Hall because my body was aching from sickness and the tour was supposed to last 2.5 hours! Milly gave us a sweet hug and a kiss on the cheek as we left.
Robbie and I walked to the beautiful Christ Church in the city and ended up sleeping on a bench there together. It’s hilarious to me to think of what we must have looked like. We ended up back at our hostel to get checked in and literally slept 14 hours. Praise God that my body aches left me when we woke up! I’m still fighting off the rest of the symptoms but I’m managing okay.
Thursday we were supposed to rent a car and go see the Cliffs of Moher. Of course a part of me kept thinking, “Fight your exhaustion and illness because you must take advantage of every moment” and other thoughts like, “Everyone will say you didn’t actually get to experience Ireland if you didn’t see the cliffs,” etc. But Robbie in his constant kindness and gentleness, the way he honestly is always taking care of me (remember my immune system? This is my third flu THIS YEAR, not to mention the 12-day jaw infection I had in February or the cold I had in June, or my small intestinal disease!– He is ALWAYS taking care of me. Always patient, never complaining. always putting my needs first) told me to get breakfast and go back to sleep, to rest as much as I could and the Cliffs didn’t matter as much as my health, that we’d go into Dublin in the afternoon after I could more easily get on my feet. Robbie’s love is everything I prayed for for so many years. He doesn’t just say these things and then guilt me later, he means them and he’s proved that to me for 4.5 years now. So that’s what we did. We had our free breakfast around 8, went back upstairs to our room, and I slept for a couple more hours before we prayed and read together for another couple hours in the quiet with the Ireland sunshine settling into the room.
We finally left the hostel around 1pm, grabbed pizza at a lovely sidewalk cafe nearby, got some cherished face to face time, wandered a bunch of side streets and admired the old world beauty, went to the Guinness brewery and were more fascinated by the tour than we imagined we’d be, enjoyed Guinness in their Gravity Bar that overlooks all of Dublin, walked and lounged in St. Patrick’s Park, and then ended the night at a popular Pub called the Hairy Lemon, sharing some famous Bangers and Mash for dinner. And we may have snuck over to an amazingly delicious “Irish rolled donut” store right before they closed for dessert! 🙂
Our time in Dublin was short, and I swear I saw more of the back of my eyelids than I saw of the city, but I’m so thankful to be on this adventure with my sweetie, no matter what life throws our way– sickness or otherwise, God still gets the glory.
We are in the Oslo, Norway airport as I write this. Robbie is reading the Stephen King book, “It” across from me and I think it’s so great he’s making time for reading fiction, even if it is horror fiction. 🙂 We are waiting for our next flight to Copenhagen where we will have a 12 hour layover before we arrive in the Faroe Islands for 9 days.