One would think that once I returned home for the summer I would spend my time languishing on hot porch swings, taking long dips in cool lake water, and watching movies in dark theatres. Instead, I found myself on several small travel trips that took me to some interesting places around the States.
The first was to my 20th, yes 20th Peace Corps Senegal Reunion in Boston. I spent two years with many of this crew when I was fresh out of college. In 1995 we met up in Philadelphia and boarded a plane to West Africa, our home for the next two years. Many of us had become quite successful since then. There was a world-renowned photographer, political activists, school principals, and other community leaders. Most of us had continued to travel the world after our time overseas. I admired my returned Peace Corps buddies for their consciousness level about social issues, their world-awareness, their curiosity and their zest. I was so moved by the fact that our former leaders, Patrick and Jeanette, had come to join us. After bestowing on us gifts of hand-made earrings and potholders, they told us that they had never forgotten us. We were the group that had helped turn the tide of an over 50% early return rate. Today the Peace Corps continues to thrive in its mission of bringing America to world, bringing the world to America, and grassroots development.
After this I came home for a couple weeks before embarking on a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan for SpeakUp, a writing and speaking conference. I got to chat with publishers and agents about some of the writing ideas I am developing. For the most part, it’s all about learning to handle rejection and get better because of it. I met my dear friend Jenn there who continues to inspire me with her agility and courage. She speaks almost every weekend of the year, travels internationally regularly, and takes time to encourage others while home.
Lastly, my entrepreneur extraordinaire friend Jill from my church lifegroup talked me into going to a Jesus Culture conference in Long Beach, CA. She threw in sponsoring me and our other life group member Sue (who had just moved to work with CRU in LA) into the conference if we’d only just agree. So, I agreed to look for a cheap ticket. I found one and found myself on a plane bound for LAX. Jesus Culture was a whirlwind of great teaching, music, and enthusiastic youth ready to win the world for God. I spent a whole day at the beach just lying under a palm tree. I got some great Korean food with grad school pal YiSun, and was hosted by Sue herself, who always makes me feel special at her place. This time I was tired, but it was such a joy to meet up with college friends (I actually went to university in LA County 25 years ago-whew!) and most precious of all, my sweet cousin Millicent. A couple weeks after returning from this trip, Millicent suddenly died of an aneurism. This blog entry is dedicated to her memory.