We've been out and about again this week. On Tuesday, Wes, the kids, and I went down to Tacoma to visit some old friends from Texas who are there on a youth missions trip this week, staying with mutual friends, also from Texas. Confused yet? LOL Long story short, this was a little like a family reunion. We saw kids we've known for all - or at least most - of their lives. Most of them grew up with our children. There were a few new faces too, which is always good when you've been gone from a group of people for four years!
Our friends who live in Tacoma arranged for all of us to go to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, a woodland, wetland, meadow park with free-roaming native wildlife such as bison, bighorn sheep, and deer. We rode a tram through the park, and the animals were out in force. It's amazing how exciting it was to spot moose and elk and have a bison bull within hand's reach - if you wanted to touch him, that is. I did not. Here are a couple of our animal friends..
This is not the bison that got so close. He was standing kind of in the road as we inched by him. A little too close for comfort, in my book.
Here are all the kids together, mine included. Andrew is on the far left and Sam and Beth are on the far right.
This last picture is one I planned for weeks. It touches my heart deeply, because these are the kids who are still serving the Lord. As we asked about many of the others we'd known through the years, we heard time and again that he or she wasn't in church anymore. We heard stories that made our hearts ache for the boys and girls who were part of our lives for 11 years - kids we taught in school and Sunday school and other church classes. The ones pictured here all grew up together, and it was so good to see them all together again. I pray that these young men and women will stay close to God, regardless of what their brothers, sisters, and peers are doing. From left to right are Beth, Taylor, Britaney, Andrew, David, Sam, Dillon, and Jacquelyn (Jacquelyn is a special friend of Samuel's - she was born shortly after his 11th birthday, and they took to each other right away. He used to carry her all over the place. She's now almost 9 years old and got to come because her dad is the chaperon on this trip. She was thrilled to see Samuel!). Bro. Wes and I love you guys and girls, and we pray that God will use you in the coming years to bring many to Himself and train another generation to live for God!
After we had our Trek and a picnic lunch, we parted company with this group. Beth and I dropped off Wes and our boys at their hotel and drove back to Vancouver last night. We were tired, but it was a good trip, and both of us were grateful to sleep in our own beds last night! All my guys are in Lancaster, CA tonight, having flown down there this morning. Andrew and Wes will be driving Sam's car home tomorrow, a 20-hour trip, beginning about 4 AM, and Sam has already begun his new security job on campus. He was so ready for the new school year! Be proud of me - I didn't cry when I left them yesterday, but it was a narrow escape! ;)