Friday, October 5, 2012
The lasting gifts of paradise
The first party was a complete surprise! I showed up for my last youth group with one of the 8th graders from my street in tow. We walked into the church and there were tables beautifully decorated and a whole bunch of extra people milling about. "Surprise!!"
The sneaky moms in the group came up with the idea to invite the parents and other church members I've worked closely with to have a last meal together and make my last youth group a really special one. I know how much effort it takes to transform our sanctuary into a dining hall and prepare food for 40+ people, so I was pretty humbled by the whole thing. As if the surprise party wasn't enough, they sat me down in a chair and started handing me what seemed like a bazillion little boxes.
As I opened the first set of boxes, it started to sink in what was going on. A chain link bracelet, a charm of Guam, a sea turtle, a latte stone. As I continued to open each box, I found a charm and a note inside each one. Each family had picked out a charm for me and wrote me a sweet note to go along with it. There was a flip flop from the Collins family and a plumeria cross from the Duenas family and a Scuba diving gecko (OOG!) from Noah, one of our 7th graders. Each tiny piece of silver and each note came together to create a beautiful and special charm bracelet to help me remember all of the special people from our LCG family.
Our last Sunday on the island, our friends from the neighborhood and Nick's work threw us a going away party at our friends the Roberts house. I wrote about the party in a recent post, but what I didn't share with you all was the extraordinary going away gift they told me about that day. My amazing, wonderful Guammie friends all got together and published Peyt's Island into a book! Into two books, actually! They told me the volumes were waiting for me at my parents' house in Houston. At that point, I suddenly couldn't wait to get on the plane to go see it!
As soon as we got to town, my parents brought Peyt's Island (the book!!) over to Nick's house. I spent the next few hours pouring over the pages full of the words and pictures and memories that have reflected and molded and grown my soul over the past two years. I couldn't put it down! There were so many obscure posts I had forgotten about... so many pages of discovering our island and trying new things and going new places. So many stories of jungle exploration and sea creature spotting and the extraordinary details of day-to-day island life.
Never in a million years would it have dawned on me to do this for myself. But thanks to Amy, Erin, Erica, Jaime, Kate, Shea, Nicole, Trish, Erika, Lisa, Kristi, Jenny, and Sara, I will forever have this unforgettable experience bound together, page by page, post by post, to look back on whenever my heart longs to return to Peyt's Island. As hard as it was to leave a place I had grown to love to much, my heart is somehow at peace in this transition knowing these stories are mine to take with me in such a tangible way.
So thank you, Guam friends. From the bottom of my heart. I may have written the words and told the stories, but it was all of you who made Peyt's Island such paradise for us. Thank you doesn't seem quite enough to cover such incredible gifts. I hope you all know how truly grateful I will forever be for this time together and for these special gifts to remember it all.