The weekend of the Missionary TECH Team anniversary, my sister and her family came out for a visit. We were expecting to spend a lot of time together, doing all sorts of things. I was counting down for about three weeks straight. I'd catch Jessica on-line and remind her how many days left until I saw them. Let's just say that I was thoroughly pumped.
Day one- Thursday: I worked until 4 PM, an unexpected surprise, as I was planning to work a half-day. We got to have them over at 5:30 for supper, but I had to leave around 6:30 for church because I'd be practicing with the worship team for the first time here in Longview. (I played cello.) When they arrived at Stone House, Evie and Eloise were both very shy, and they weren't sure if they wanted to hug their Aunt Molly and Uncle Matt. Jessica was holding Audrey who was very welcoming to a hug. I couldn't resist, though, looking at those Mary Englebright girls... I swooped them up and hugged them. :) They are precious. They continued to by "shy" for only that night. Oh! And Evie's first words to me were about their amazing hotel!!! :)
Day two, Friday: I had to go in to work, even though I'd planned a day off, but there were pressing things for the anniversary celebration to take care of. I got to see the Ben, Jessica and the family around noon. We had lunch, and Evie, Eloise, Jessica and I spent time together and flew kites while Ben and Audrey took naps at the hotel. We had a really good time running around the yard. That night we had the anniversary celebration, and afterward, Matt and I went to the amazing hotel to hang with Jess and Ben. It was really fun, but I was so tired and cranky, I'm afraid I was a bit of a downer for the party. The rest of 'em were good sports, though!
Day three, Saturday: We spent time together in Longview before we headed out to Caddo Lake. Caddo Lake brings Texas and Louisianna together. It's a cypress forest in a lake... or swamp... or bayou? :) Nah, it's a lake, and it's GORGEOUS. However, I failed to check ahead of time, and there were no available boat rides that day because the water was SO high, that even the ticket booths near the road were flooded! Instead of checking out the cypress forest, we hiked through the Caddo Lake State Park, and got eaten alive by mosquitoes.
Day four, Sunday: My sister's family joined us at church for the second service, after we had breakfast with them at their hotel. After Church and Canner kids, we had lunch, and then we spent some time resting. Matt and I had some final errands to run before we had their surprise birthday breakfast Monday. So we did those while the fam rested, and Ben and Evie went out on the town. When we got back we started a bonfire, and played a little together. We had hot dogs, beans and salad, and we drank water, of course, because that's Evie's "favorite drink in the whole, the whole, the whole world." :0) Joel Givens joined us along with Joel Kreider and Wally. (You'll meet Wally soon.) We sang songs, ate and toasted marshmallows. We really enjoyed ourselves. It was this night that I started nervously anticipating their departure. Jessica, Ben, Matt, Joel Kreider and I stayed up and decorated the house for the birthday party.
Day five, Monday: The girls woke up and were very surprised to see balloons! I was so excited that they were enjoying the balloons so much! (Eloise asked to be excused to go potty 3 times during breakfast, so she could play with the balloons on her way there and back! :) ) We played a couple games after Matt went to work, and we played music on Matt's ukulele. The girls wrote song after song, and they sang with eyebrows raised and eyes closed at times. It was so heartfelt and adorable. After this we drove out to Kilgore to check out the East Texas Oil Museum . After we found it, we found it closed. :( It's closed Mondays!!! Gotta tell ya', I was super embarrassed. They handled it so well, though, and they decided they'd take me out to eat as consolation for being a loser. (Hee-hee-hee... they didn't actually say that.) We ate at the amazing Jalapeño Tree, and we said some weepy goodbyes afterward.
Since they've been gone I keep thinking of things that we can do together NEXT time... other than Caddo Lake and the Oil Museum. It sounds like "next time" might be soon-ish, which is so cool to us. We get to see them in a week (after Thanksgiving), for Christmas, and then POSSIBLY again in January! Knowing these possibilities helps us feel a little less homesick. :)
So, there ya' go. There's a tiny bit more detail. I still feel like I had to exclude too many cute details about them to make this an understandable overview. Well, anyway, we are so thankful for this experience with Ben, Jess and the girls. God is so sweet to us!