Hello AGAIN!! Holy wow!! Yet another week has literally flown by! This time next week I will be jumping in my pants because Mom and Grandma start their journey to see me ONE week from tomorrow!! Not that I'm not jumping in my pants right now - I've been counting down with Mom since day 40 :] Anyways, not much has happened since we last spoke - it's really been winding down here. But there are many things to talk about! First of all, the song of the week: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns has been hitting me hard this week (since it is now ok to listen to Christmas music! - and here's the link, I want you to listen to it while you read! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bK8xB1opuQ8&feature=&p=E3F3BF81A2A6C678&index=0&playnext=1). I'll talk more about the song towards the end once I've told you about this time of Thanksgiving!
So. It has been getting COLD here and I'm crossing my fingers that I will be able to see snow in this beautiful city before I return home. I found some fantastic knee-high, hand-knitted wool socks that have literally saved my toes from frostbite! I swear, Italians have skin of steel. The house is NEVER above 60 degrees and the old radiators from the Jurassic period do nothing for warmth. So it is perfectly understandable why Kelsey, the girl who always has cold appendages anyways, needed some super-duper-extra-warm socks. Anyways, I got to talk with my niece and nephews and sister which totally made my week. Conner read me a Thomas the Tank Engine story for my bedtime story and even showed me all the pictures (this was over Skype). It amazes me every time I see them, how fast they are growing up! I still remember falling asleep with Jaffer on the couch when he was only a few months old!
Thursday was Thanksgiving as you all know. And it was my first Thanksgiving away from home and my family. However, I had SO much to be thankful for this year (although I am always thankful for these things every day). I am so thankful that I went on this trip, for it has not only shaped me into an entirely new person, but it brought me so much closer to God than I ever imagined it could. I have a new-found strength that I never knew I had until I was faced with this challenge - and that strength is through Him. I am forever thankful for my wonderful family and friends who have become my family that have made me into the person I am today. I am thankful for the blessed years I had with my beloved Grandpa, who I know has been here with me every step of the way on this new path I am trudging. I am thankful for all of the wonderful people of my program which you see in the picture below (and I want to name them off because every single one of them is a light in this place: Sam, Madeline, Kevin, Aurora, Zoe, Sarah, Rachel, Kate, Tad, Leslie, Sydney, Kim, Betsy, Alex, Steph, Hanna, Alyse, Carolyn, Max, Erin, Amy, and Elizabeth). That picture was taken at our Thanksgiving dinner that our wonderful director, Jodie Mariotti organized. It was a truly great celebration together, although I did start crying for my family in the middle of it!
The next night I went out to dinner with about half of the program for Carolyn's birthday which was one of the best evenings we've had together yet. It's bittersweet how close we are becoming now at the end. The next day I got to spend a couple hours with my good friend Tad where we walked up to my spot where I have conversations with God. It was fun to share such a special place with him and it was nice for me to see this place again on such a beautiful, cool fall day.
So I did say I would talk about the song of the week! The lyrics of this song are incredible and, of course, are speaking to my heart this week. "I heard the bells on Christmas day, their old familiar carols play. Mild and sweet their songs repeat, of peace on Earth, goodwill to men. And the bells are ringing, like a choir they're singing. In my heart I hear them, peace on Earth, goodwill to men. And in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on Earth I said. For hate is strong and mocks the song, of peace on Earth, goodwill to men. But the bells are ringing, like a choir singing. Does anybody hear them? Peace on Earth, goodwill to men. Then rang the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead, nor does He sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right shall prevail. With peace on Earth, goodwill to men." What this has been meaning to me lately is the culture that is all around me and the constantly arguing family I am faced with every day. It seems like there is no peace here - no one likes each other, no one respects one another. But then I am constantly reminded of God's presence in my life and that He never sleeps. He is constantly working, constantly watching, and always ALWAYS loving us no matter where we are.
My experience here has been incredible and I'm a little sad to see it come to an end. But as one of my friends so rightly said to me one day, "God gives us these seasons for a reason. So live it up until it's time to start another season!" My season here is about to end, and I am a little sad to see it go. But at the same time, I am excited to see what the new one brings. I am home literally three weeks from today and I am ecstatic at the thought of seeing everyone and being in their presence! Love you and miss you all more than you could possibly know! Until next time :]