We left on Wednesday, April 27th at about 4 in the morning. Then we proceeded to drive for 26 hours. Let me tell you, 26 hours in the car really makes you appreciate all of the walking around and stretching you do in a day. However, the drive in and of itself was not that bad. We drove through some beautiful countryside. Example:
This picture was taken at about 6 AM and I am pretty sure we were somewhere in Arkansas.... don't judge me. It was a long drive and when you sleep at random times, it's hard to keep track of where you are. So anyway, we finally made it to Tennessee. The biggest blessing was that when we finally arrived at our destination, I still loved the people I had traveled with. In fact, I think that I even liked them a little more than before. So we spent two nights in Memphis, and tried to just relax and recover after our drive. Besides, there isn't much to do when it's POURING RAIN. But other than the weather, it was a very enjoyable two days. After that, we arrived in Kingsport, Tennessee. It's a gorgeous, lush, green part of east Tennessee. It ended up raining and drizzling most of the time we were there, but we still managed to have some fun adventures.
This is Cacti. She (or he, I'm not quite sure which) was adorable!
Then we walked around downtown and got to see some pretty cool old places. This old news stand and the old theatre were a few of them. I was told that the theatre was the first one in the area. It was really cool to peek in the windows and see the old fashioned inside. The news stand was also really cool. I mean, ice cream, old fashioned popcorn and the guy behind the counter wearing a tie?! I felt like we had just walked back into the 1950s. SO COOL!
These pianos were sitting near old abandoned buildings. It was cool. Some were just painted, while others had writings and signatures on them.They played pretty well, and weren't terribly out of tune considering no one knows how long they've been there.
Yes, I did force the boys to play the awesome piano while I took a picture... No shame.
The next picture was from a hike we took, somewhere. The guys took me to this old abandoned cabin by the river. We looked around and it was kind of an eery feeling. It was cloudy and rainy and the house was creaky and super worn down. We found a place of collapsed ceiling with 19050s or 60s wallpaper still attached in a few places. The foundation of the building was visible where places of the floor had rotted away and you know what? The foundation was stacks of rocks. It was a weird old house, but it was cool imagining what the place looked like in it's glory days.
Our last stop was at Precious Nana's house. She has a an adorable little place with some of the most beautiful plants growing in her backyard. The blooms were huge and absolutely breathtaking. They smelled amazing in the warm summer sun and made the evening just that much more enjoyable. But in addition to all of that, they also reminded me of how the Lord turns us into beautiful blooms. We start as little tiny buds, but as we absorb his light and his words, we blossom little by little. Our scent and beauty reaches out and touches others if we let God do His work in us. It's amazing to me how God is constantly reminding us of who he is and how he works through all of his creations.
This last picture warms my heart. This is Nana. She is one of the most adorable, precious women that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. This picture captured a precious moment between a grandmother and her grandson, and it also reminds of that life is fleeting and that we should love and cherish moments like these while we can.
This trip changed a lot in my life and afforded me a ton of opportunities to truly seek the Lord's face. It was a much needed break from my everyday patterns and I am beyond thankful for each and every lesson I was taught while I was away. I was able to spend countless hours studying the Word of God and listening to sermons by some favorite teachers. It renewed the hunger within me and gave me a stronger desire than ever to constantly grow close to the Lord. I loved being able to spend time with this family in that beautiful place and I absolutely cannot wait to go back. But more than that, I can't wait to see those awesome people again. I am thankful for them!