Friday, July 2, 2010

A New Reason to Blog :)

A couple months ago, while looking for a summer service opportunity for Brianna, a company called Adventures Cross Country was brought to my attention. There were several opportunities Brianna and I were looking into, but this particular opportunity was quite interesting. A month long trip, to China and Tibet.....the other side of the world, where she would have the opportunity to see first hand all the history of China she loves so much, and also to serve the people of China and Tibet in various capacities. She would volunteer in an Elementary school, at a rice farm, at the Panda Breeding Center, and at an orphanage. The decision was not easy, not for this mom, or the sixteen year old who would be missing an entire month of her summer with friends. But God has funny ways of leading you toward the right decision, and for Brianna and I He couldn't of yelled it any louder!

There was one spot left on the trip and it was now the "deadline day" to get the group airfare rate for the flight to China. We needed to make a 6pm, and she wasn't due home from school until 2pm. We talked, she thought, she wasn't sure. Then a painter came to give us an estimate for some work we were having done. Brianna, trying to decide, was sitting in the kitchen at my laptop, looking at pictures and stories from past student's trips. She doesn't usually use my laptop, but the website was already open so she sat and looked at it there. The painter, finished looking at what we wanted done, and asked if he could sit at the kitchen table to write up his estimate. With that, Ella walked in the room wearing one of her dance costumes. This sparked a conversation about how expensive the dance costumes are, which lead the painter to mention how expensive his son's cap and gown was for his college graduation. His son had just graduated from Stony Brook. I asked what he majored in, he replied that he was a history major...Brianna's love. Brianna smiles at his answer. He then went on to tell us that because of his son's AP credits he was able to graduate in three years, and then proceeds to say......"but the best thing he ever did was go to China for six weeks"!!!!! Brianna and I looked at each other and knew there was nothing else to think about! What were the chances of that. All the surrounding circumstances just happened to fall perfectly into place to lead to that conversation and for him to say that???? We knew, that was our sign.

Knowing and feeling it was the right decision didn't mean it was going to make it easy to actually but her on a plane and send her to the other side of the world. In fact the entire trip was something that was making us step way out of "our box". She was to pack a month's worth of clothing and equipment in a backpack??? And speaking of backpacks, no one here knew the first thing about them (that is until I spent an ENTIRE day researching backpacks!). Hiking boots, rain gear, hostels, guesthouses.....all things that simply did not exist in our vocabulary...until now that is.

We managed to figure it all out and get everything, all 34lbs. of it, into her backpack, and then the day came. The day that I would put my first born onto a plane and send the other side of the world. I constantly reminded myself of the painter, his words, and what an incredibly wonderful opportunity this was for her, but I could literally feel the battle going on inside my head and my heart. A constant tug of war between emotions with my mind playing the coach to both sides....and I wondered if I would be strong enough to actually put her on that plane. It's hard, being strong, and it's hard to let go. But, I knew this would be an amazing experience for her and I knew it would change her....and I knew that that was probably what I was the most afraid of. She'd come back, a little more independent, a little more self confident having been "on her own" for a month and having had some world travel experience. And as much as I knew that was going to help her grow, I also knew she'd come home needing me just a little bit less, and I could feel everything inside me wanting to resist that. I reminded myself that being brave doesn't mean that you have no fear, it means doing something even though you are afraid and I told myself that it was OK to feel this way and let her go anyway.

So, she's there now.....on the other side of the world....having the time of her life, and I'm OK...mostly :)

She has spent today touring Beijing and will have another day there tomorrow. Then it will be off to Yunnan where they will spend four days hiking from guesthouse to guesthouse along the Tiger Leaping Gorge. I will continue to update this blog while she travels, though I'll probably have limited access to any pictures from the trip.

I just want to say thank you to everyone for their support, their kind words, and their interest in her trip :)


Michelle said...

Know I am praying for both of you (Ella too!) during this time. The entire experience promises to be unforgettable! I look forward to following the journey. Wish I could go too:)

LynnieB said...

What an awesome opportunity! I am a bit jealous. Just think of the connection she will now have with Owen. Too cool.