Monday, August 5, 2013

slovakia trip, part 1: goodbyes, first flight and DC

hey there, blog world. it is finally time to begin the great recap of my Slovakia trip. YAY! I know you are all so excited and have been dying to hear about it. (that actually isn't sarcasm...some of you have used those words on me!) so! here we go!!

oh, yeah. there might be someone reading this, thinking, 'wait, you went where and did what?' you can hop right over here and here  and read those two posts and you'll be set. :) please and thank you.

okay. my adventure started on the morning of June 26th. and when I say the morning, I mean, 1:30 a.m. my flight departed at 5:45 a.m. and I had to be at the airport by 3:45, and so I was up and ready to go by 2. yep. I was pumped. so pumped.

I spent the night before I left with Michael and Heather and baby Zeke. (that's my oldest bro, his wife and my nephew for any newbies around these parts). Michael got up before the crack of dawn and we headed to the airport, me totally pumped and excited...him...well, he swears he wasn't whatevs. we listened to Bieber (which I need to write a post about...gulp...) and I really enjoyed those last few minutes with my brother.

we got there and he took care of getting my baggage labeled and all that, just let me sit and drink my coffee. then we hugged, said "I love you" and he went back home to go back to bed. I checked in my baggage, prayed with my team mates and we went through security.

security was a breeze. I will admit, I had been worried about it, but heck, I aced it. :) seriously, no big deal. we got through security and still had over an hour and a half wait before we boarded so I took that time to look at Facebook, Instagram, read blog posts that I had missed, drink Starbucks and basically tap my foot wanting to get the show on the road!

finally it was time. we boarded.
me and Emily, my roomie.
y'all. my first flight was awful. the worst thing I have ever experienced in my life. I was sick as a dog. lost my stomach at the very beginning. it was a short flight, but the plane was so small and it was hot and bumpy and...yes. awful. never wanna go through that first flight again.

we landed in Dulles around 7:30ish, and then we headed towards DC. we grabbed two team mates from the DC area and all went to get breakfast together. that was a totally great breakfast. it was at this nice Greek restaurant and their pancakes were so. good. it was fun to be together with the US team. 12 in all. Mr. Lou, Mrs. Sue and Paul, Emily, Hutch, Mrs. Dee, Mrs. Deb, Mr. Frederic, Mrs. Donna, Mrs. Nancy, Mr. Hayward and me! really, the greatest mission trip team in the history of the world.

a very shameless "I made it through my first flight" bathroom selfie :)
after breakfast, we headed into the heart of DC. we parked in the Arlington National Cemetery parking garage, and I headed into the welcome center to meet up with some of my favorite people on earth. that would be my cousin, Janice and her kiddos: Grayson, Lucie and Violet. (my cousin, Rob, was working, but he's a favorite, too). I got mommy hugs from Janice and we set off to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.

I'll be honest. I was emotional. I love history. it has always been my favorite subject. I teared up more than once that day, looking at different things. it was hard and so amazing all at the same time.

if there was one thing I wanted to see, it was the World War II memorial. I didn't care what else I saw. it was everything I wanted it to be.

I really was pretty strong til we got here. Grayson and I hopped out of the van and went to look around by ourselves (since parking in DC is basically non-existent!). when I saw it, I'm not sure if my heart stopped beating or was racing. it was such a weird emotion.

my great-grandfather was in the Marine Corps in WWII. he was on Midway Island, building airstrips. he was on Guadalcanal. he was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. I have literally never felt so proud in my entire life as when I was standing there, looking at the names of those islands, reading them over and over again, knowing that my granddaddy fought on them so that I could be free. knowing that he fought for me. it was an experience I will never forget.

after that, we went to the air and space museum and looked around there a little bit, and then headed back to Arlington, where we exchanged hugs and "see you later's" and I was off to meet back up with the team.

from there, we drove back to Dulles International Airport, and started through security. that was a nightmare. worst airport experience ever. we were in line for over an hour. finally, we made it through, all clear and grabbed some food before hopping on the plane...and it was at this point that I realized that we were missing two key players. Mrs. Donna and Mr. Hayward. They were behind us in security because they had to park our vehicles, and they weren't on the plane!

we all said some quick, urgent prayers and they were heard and answered, and Mr. Hayward and Mrs. Donna arrived, breathless and red-faced, only a few minutes before take-off.

and then it was time for an eight hour flight across the Atlantic Ocean. I was taking off on the biggest adventure of my life. and I couldn't have been more excited.


Thank you so much for reading and commenting! You make me smile! Have a fantastic day, friend.