Saturday, December 17, 2016

10 Years Ago... Our Italian Adventure Began

View of Vicenza, Italy from Monte Berico

Today marks exactly 10 years since Arielle, Rachel, and I boarded the first airplane on our journey to join Sean in Vicenza, Italy.  It was the girls' first flight.  All of us were giddy with excitement.  I mean seriously... Italy?  Italian food... beautiful scenery... fertile soil to grow something, anything... learning Italian... jet-setting through Europe.  At least, those were the things I was thinking about.  The girls were most excited about the plane ride.  

At our gate at BWI, waiting to board our plane

Arielle, age 5, was my little trooper, pulling luggage while carrying her own backpack.  Rachel, though only 2, did me the greatest service she could have ever done -- she did not pee in her seats when she fell asleep during the flights.  I can't tell you how anxious I was about this.  I watched that child like a hawk when she went to sleep, like I would see some sign before the deed was done.  

On the plane and Rachel is asleep.  Yes, I watched her to make sure there were no accidents in the seat!  Until I fell asleep, of course.  :-)

We flew from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to O'Hare (Chicago) to Heathrow (London).  After a 6 hour layover, we flew our last leg to Vicenza.  

I must note that the only thing I remember from that last flight was the flight attendant beginning the seat belt demonstration.  The next thing I remember was the announcement to tell us we were approaching Vicenza.  The same flight attendant kindly watched me as I awoke in a sleepy haze, smiled, and remarked in her British accent, "You must be at the end of a long journey."  Little did she know that the journey was just beginning...

Sean and the girls on the playground behind our house the day after we arrived 

Overall, our stay in Italy was bittersweet for me.  It was mostly sweet in that we met some wonderful people, grew in the Lord, saw so many beautiful places, ate delicious food, and added our precious Josiah to our family.  The bitter part was not really Italy's fault... Italy just happened to be the backdrop of a life-altering health crisis.  We ended up leaving six months early, after two-and-a-half years.

I could post so many pictures of people and places and write chapters and chapters about our experiences, but I won't do that this time.  However, I will share photos of but a few of the wonderful people we met during our first six months in Italy:  

Erika (right) and her family had us over for Christmas dinner.  
They had  arrived in Italy only a few weeks earlier.

Ja'Net, me, April at Palladio Mall

Laura and Liam

The Davis Family when there were only three of them!

Sean and Terry in Genoa

Karol and I on our way to Venice

Pastor Drylie from Vicenza Baptist, the first church we attended

Here we are on our way to Venice and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.

The Heck Family

It's hard to believe ten years have gone by already.  Sometimes it seems like yesterday that we were exploring downtown Vicenza.  Then at other times, it seems like it was a lifetime ago, a dream.  I am grateful to the Lord for sending us to Italy.  He taught us MANY, MANY (did I say, MANY?) lessons.  Our time there was truly once-in-a-lifetime.  In Christ, Talya