The last you heard from me, I was posting pictures of strangers sitting on each other's laps in the spirit of church retreats. Since then, I've pretty much been keeping TAM airlines in business with some unexpected -but very lovely- holiday travel. In October my parents invited me to join them for family Christmas in New York City. Christmas of 09 would have been my third Christmas in a row away from family, and I had no plans to join them, but who would say no to that kind of offer? Because it was a last minute plan, and apparently half of Brazil tries to fly to NYC for the holidays, I flew in about a week before Christmas and flew back to Natal on New Year's Eve. It was a wonderful (and BITTERLY COLD) two weeks, and Christmas in NYC is just as magical as I had always dreamed.
Exploring in Central Park on my first full day, not adequately clothed AT ALL. I was surprised to find legs under my jeans when I got home, given that I hadn't been feeling them for about 3 hours.
Mom (and Dad and Aunt Lynette, NOT pictured here) braving the cold to wait in line for our discount Broadway show tickets. It was really so, so cold, but they said it was worth it. (After seeing the show, of course. They weren't so sure at the point this picture was taken, despite the cute babushka look Mom had going on.)
Carpenter/Barneche family in front of the Rockefeller Center tree and skating rink. The tree is kind of hard to see...I'll post another one.
There you go.
There you go.
On our way to church my first Sunday in NYC. It snowed a LOT the night before. This is Columbia's library.
My first time (of many) in Time's Square. I really wanted to see The Lion King, but wasn't going to be able to, so I took a picture in front of the sign instead. Kelly was cold.
The Carpenters/Barneches again, this time in front of the United Nations. (And I fancy the cool reflection in the windows, don't you?)
As I said, I flew home on New Year's Eve, which made me arrive in Natal at 1 am on January 1st. Thankfully Roberto pulled himself away from the rockin' NYE party at the church (I'm pretty sure he got out of washing dishes) to pick me up at the airport. I spent the next 3 days doing unpacking, doing laundry, and RE-packing, because Monday morning at 6 am I flew out AGAIN, only this time to Salvador for the annual missionary conference. I had made these plans long before NYC came along, so I made sacrifice to do something I don't like to do (back-to-back trips) and had the time of my life. This was my first time to the conference as an adult and not as one of my parents' +2 children, in other words this was my first time to the conference where I actually participated in the conference rather than childcare.
It was excellent, absolutely excellent. I was blessed to connect with several old friends (mine and my parents') and make several new friends. Jim and Susan Clark from Abilene were the speakers, and they did a wonderful job and made us all feel very loved and appreciated. :) We were in a hotel that looked out on the beautiful Bahian ocean (Bahia is the state, famous for pretty beaches. It was actually Bahia's section of the Atlantic Ocean. Don't worry, I didn't just invent a body of water,) and I enjoyed sleeping in an air conditioned room for four nights. After I got back, I told my parents that it was exactly what I needed without even knowing that I was needing it. Sometimes it's just nice to be with people who get what you're doing, how you got there, and who have the same kinds of joys and disappointments that you do. I regret not going the past two years, and will make this conference a priority in years to come.
Also, I don't think they do, but in case anyone on the Salvador team reads this post, you all did a WONDERFUL job planning the conference. I would have had big shoes to fill had the conference actually fallen on me next year. :)
My good friend Carrie Gotcher, who I met when she was my youth group intern about 10 years ago. She and her husband moved to Niteroi, Brazil last year and now we are missionary friends. Small world.