Tonight was our last chapel and our last meal as a complete group. Clay talked to the students about hard work - marriage takes work, job success takes work, anything worth anything takes work - rarely do stars align without some sort of God-given ability to produce. Clay is such an example for young men. He makes life better - more fun, more meaningful, and more interesting - for me and A-C. He is a joy to be with. Your young men have been fortunate to watch his example and grow close to him. Now I picked him, so you know I'm partial, but my, oh, my he is wonderful. And your students appreciate him and have told him so. Sometimes it's tough for guys to express themselves in words, but I've seen almost every single guy show appreciation to Clay for this opportunity to study abroad. These young men that we've gotten to know are prize-winners in my book! The gals, too, of course, but I'm just saying that it's tougher for guys sometimes to be expressive, and I truly admire it when I see that trait in young men.
The girls on this trip have taken A-C and have treated her like a little sister. I just told a couple of them, "You'll know this one day: when someone is kind to your child, it's like they've been exponentially kind to you, so thank you for being so precious to my daughter." I cannot express how fortunate Clay and I feel to have had your daughters be such examples for ours.
After our meal tonight, we watched a slide show that A-C pulled together all by herself; this was the first time that Clay and I had seen it, so it truly was a surprise to everyone. She did a great job with power point! After that, Josh (guitar) and Luke (lead singer) made up a song that was hilarious and accurate and that poked fun at a few of us, but we ALL loved it and demanded an encore at the end of the festivities. Jessica H. pulled together a slide show from everyone's favorite photos, and we enjoyed that together. Then Lucas and Reed got up to poke fun at everybody - we all got raked over the coals - gently, of course! The last activity was a "play" activity - Lucas talked everyone into going out to a field and playing a game and getting gelato...never too much; Lucas was voted "Most Likely to Spend Money on Gelato," by the way.
We have three students - Tara, Will, and Chelsea J. - that are leaving in about an hour for Rome. Their plane flies out early, so Jeremy will drive them over in the HU van with all their luggage; they won't have to train anywhere, which will really be nice for them. It'll be weird without 23 students at breakfast in the morning. I guess this is the last post. It's that time. These three are heading out first, but we'll all follow them tomorrow during the day. Our train leaves at 3:00 for Lake Como; we'll spend three days there relaxing and not thinking or planning for a bit, then it'll be back to the real world!
We have stored up such precious memories with this BAT group. When I need to go to my "happy place" every now and then when life gets stressful and demanding, your students will be a part of that for me! Italy is so rich with art, food, people, and history; we've learned, we've grown, we've experienced... We have ALL been blessed by our June in Italy, and I know we all have special memories and "happy places" to go to when we need them! Thank you for having the trust and confidence in us to allow us to be a part of your kids' (not really kids :) ) lives for this time. They've grown in many ways, and so have we. It's been a privalege to be a part of the journey for each of them.