Welcome back to the River Blog, everybody! I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend! I’m back from Aruba and getting myself back into the groove of things! (Thank you thank you THANK YOU LORD that it wasn’t freezing cold when we came back, Ohio why must your weather be so difficult.)
You know, when I started this blog, I remember promising that I would share encouraging and uplifting stories – both from others and from my own life. And after being on this trip, and the holiday weekend I just had, I think it’s time I tried to share a little niceness from my side of things. This is oddly tough for me, because in general, I don’t consider my life very exciting. XD; Additionally, I have been dealing with anxiety again lately; I tend to get more easily stressed out while on big trips, so that was likely part of it.
BUT. Looking back over my week, if I put aside the moments of anxiety or self-doubt or self-consciousness, I can see that there were actually a TON of cool things that happened – amazing memories that I hope I never lose. And now seems like a good time to stop and appreciate them! So hang on, folks; we’re going to practice that good ol’ Positive Thinking by doing aaaaa…
Good Memories Recap!
- Our trip to Aruba was to help a church down there who is building a new building with our Insulated Concrete Forms. Since we were going on sort of a work-missions capacity, the normal expenses one experiences with trips to fancy places like Aruba were mostly taken care of: we were provided a trailer (with a bedroom and bathroom for each of us!) free of charge. Our boss paid for our plane tickets. We were lent a truck that only broke down once (the gas gauge was busted so we didn’t realize we were low on gas XD). They even paid for some of our groceries and fed us most of our meals! (And home-cooked food is NEVER to be scorned! Those ham and cheese empanadas were delicious~) In short, we were SUPER BLESSED to be able to spend a week in Aruba without any really serious drag on our wallets!
(This is what we were working on. We put the big green legos together.)
- My brother’s 35th birthday took place while we were there, and when I told our hosts, they got all excited! They made us a nice dinner and the youth group came in and sang Happy Birthday to him in English AND Spanish. (There are a lot of Spanish-speakers in Aruba.) He was grinning SO HARD the whole time, it was great!
- We went to the store and I bought a snorkel kit that I thought was going to be $30, but it only rang up as $10! WHOO!
- When our truck broke down and we were stranded for a few hours, we were RIGHT by a restaurant my brother had been raving about for weeks, so we just hung out there. They had very tasty shrimp and tartar sauce, and it was outdoors, and there was this silly wild bird there who kept fluffing himself up and doing goofy mating dances that cracked me up. XD
(Also Caleb tried a whole grilled fish and discovered that he did NOT like the eyeballs.)
- We went shopping that evening and I bought a super neat ceramic mug that has a tiny spoon that sits inside the handle! (I drink a lot of microwave tea these days.) I’m sure this isn’t uncommon, but I’d never seen one before, and I’m always leaving spoons on my bedside table. And later I was much gratified to find I’d gotten a deal on it, because I saw more of them in another shop for, like, $5 more than I’d paid.
- One of the guys from the church gave us a carton of pistachio ice cream. It tasted like the ice cream version of pistachio pudding. I want more.
- Thanks to my brother’s excellent socialness (I probably would have just gone back to the trailer for a nap right after services XD; ), we met a SUPER awesome family on Sunday who not only suggested a good beach for snorkeling, but also invited us to go hiking. We ended up going to the beach they recommended (where I saw A TON OF FISH, as well as a starfish, a squid, and a SEA SNAKE). And then we went hiking AND go-karting with them! It was super fun, and I was not terrible at go-karting!
- Seriously, I was pretty decently boss at go-karting. I passed several people and really got good at ripping around corners. And this was scary go-karting, they didn’t even have seatbelts. I almost drifted around the corners a few times but I wasn’t QUITE brave enough to try and do that on purpose, even if it might have given me an edge. XD;
- Also, their youngest son and I found a mutual love of superheroes, so we discussed various superheroes and my book about kids with superpowers for much of the evening. This was highly enjoyable. :Dd
- There were very nice outdoor cats there. They liked to be petted. They even sat on my lap. I wanted to bring one home with me. Good cats.
- I went into the work part of this expecting to be kind of unsure what I was doing. But it ended up that I was a huge help to my brother (who is more experienced with the building side of our jobs). I was able to work on some really tricky stuff that he probably wouldn’t have trusted to anyone else, which freed him up to do other important work. It felt really good to be useful!
- We went horseback riding our second-to-last day. Got to visit the Natural Pool, which is a popular tourist spot in Aruba where the rocks form a natural… well, pool, right on the edge of the ocean where the waves crash all around this one calm spot. There are a ton of cool fish in there and it’s SUPER neat. And I galloped on the beach! Not only did I not fall off but it was REALLY NEAT. Galloping is way less scary than trotting, btw. XD Much smoother!
(You swim in that middle part between the rocks, where there aren’t waves.)
- My bro and I received a VERY nice (and tasty!) going-away dinner with cream of mushroom chicken that I badly wish there had been more of because everyone ate it all and I want seconds.
- We got to hang out with some missionaries from Logos Hope, a ship full of people from different countries who travel around the world taking books to people and doing mission work. We were GREATLY entertained by their stories of pranks done on the ship, including, but not limited to, two people in gorilla and banana costumes chasing each other, having to draw a mustache on your face for a work day, and guys taking over one of the girls’ dorm rooms and doing everything from shaving their legs to cooking Mexican food on the beds. (There was also an apology cake from the guys to the girls who were offended by this. XD)
- I got to try cashew fruit. I thought it was kind of nasty but it was still interesting to finally try it, and my brother ate like ten of them. Also, I shared with several people this hilarious legend I’d read about cashew fruit’s origins, and they all thought it was funny. (You can read the little story in this article.)
- When we got back home to Ohio and were leaving the airport, I saw a lady waiting for someone. It was 10:00 at night, and she was standing there with a bouquet of flowers and a heart-shaped balloon that said, “I LOVE YOU.” I thought that was about the sweetest thing, and I hope she and her guy had a wonderful evening! ❤
- There was a little kid at the baggage claim, maybe like 3 years old, who kept toddling around and trying to get up on the baggage conveyor belt. He was cute and hilarious and I think he brightened up the evening of many of us weary travelers.
- I got home to find that my first LOOTCRATE had showed up, and also THIS COOL THING I ORDERED FOR MY STEAMPUNK OUTFIT:
(It’s a cool side pouch belt that will be MUCH handier and more thematic than the little crossbody purse I’ve been using. 😀 CINCINNATI STEAMPUNK SYMPOSIUM IN TWO WEEKS!)
There were many more good things that happened on my trip to Aruba. And that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? I could easily list off all of the BAD things that happened on the trip – my anxiety attack Thursday night, my self-consciousness about if I was being useful enough, the way I procrastinated on keeping up with my journal until I almost drove myself crazy from the pressure – but the simple fact is, LOTS of good things happened. And when we make a conscious effort to focus on the good things, rather than the bad, we train our brains to be a little better at automatically noticing the good things that happen more.
I could go into all of the really cool stuff that happened over my Easter weekend, but this post is getting pretty long as it is. I hope you guys enjoyed reading a few of my memories! What cool stuff happened to you last week? It doesn’t have to be big like going horseback riding; maybe you met a really nice cat. 🙂 I hope you’ll pause sometime this week and remember some of the little blessings that God makes it His good pleasure to pepper our days with – even in the darkest times. It can really bring a boost to your day.
HE IS RISEN!
~ Jenn H.
GOOD DEED NINJA ASSIGNMENT OF THE WEEK:
Make eye contact with a complete stranger and smile at them. Compliment their clothing if you notice something you really like about it (usually works best towards kids or an adult of the same gender as you). I got SUCH a bright smile from a little girl on our plane because I told her I loved her hair as I was walking past her to my seat. =Dd