home is in my heart…

The saying about the residence of heart and home is true, but I can honestly claim several places that I consider home. When I miss each of these places, I sometimes wonder if I left a piece of my heart behind, but I think it’s more like I took them inside my heart, and carry them around with me wherever I am.

Before I left for Australia, I lived in Pennsylvania for almost five years, working as the housekeeper of this camp. GWH is very dear to me, both the people and the camp itself. So, having missed the last Labor Day Conference, I was thrilled to make it to this one.

As part of the “young people’s group”, my friends and I stayed in the Den (where the snacks are located), where we enjoyed the added benefit of having an air-conditioner. The weekend wasn’t all sunny, but no matter the sunshine content, the air was swelteringly muggy. You know, that wonderful feel of walking through soup.

My friend C. had never been to GWH, and was pleased to find that our weekend residence is where all of the camp directors stay… which means the costumes for Girl’s Camp. She loved trying on the hats, as you’ll see.

It’s such a big conference that you can never spend a long enough time talking to anyone, so I compromise, and do lots of running around hugging people, assuring them that I’ll see them again before the weekend’s over. Old friends that I’ve known since before they had their four children, or newlyweds that have welcomed their first baby. Much older friends that are the support in the local church, and I keep a close ear/eye out for how their health is doing. If they go home to be with the Lord before I see them next, they will be blessed, but I will miss their hugs.

My dearest cousin was able to get out on Saturday, so we could enjoy her and her baby, as well as get her in on the Ultimate Frisbee fun. How many years has it been since we had all my cousins on that field? Way too long. I remember a year when the Funks and Dingers made up at least 10-15 of the Frisbee participants. And I will continue to warn the guys, do NOT underestimate the pregnant one that’s cherry-picking in the end zone. She will take you out.

I got to take a wander down the hill, one afternoon, and revisit some of the buildings that I once cleaned from top to bottom. The discovery of a fancy-schmancy new coffee maker in the Old Dining Room was a bit of a surprise, but I like the paintings on the wall. I wonder if anyone I know did them. The Welcome sign on the front door hasn’t changed in the last 70 years, though I remember that it took me three or four years to notice the pineapple design, or realize that pineapples are symbolic of hospitality. Who knew?

My interest in floral photography hasn’t let up, and I took advantage of every interesting bloom I could find. I will furthermore admit that the bumblebee shot didn’t look that cool until I played around with the effects on Picasa. I am not THAT good a photographer. But I finally figured out how to highlight the buzzy little fellow. Other plant life drew my attention in the main meeting hall, behind the Dining Hall, and in front of Nancy’s house. I still think those flowers look like someone drew on them with a Sharpie.

My bruises from the weekend are starting to fade. I got a bit sore after playing Ultimate (haven’t played since sometime in Australia), and then I bashed myself up a bit more playing volleyball for three nights in a row. I haven’t played vball in well OVER a year, because the local court in Emerald got flooded before I arrived. That and Aussies don’t seem to play volleyball very often. I know, it’s sad. I only have one or two pics of the games in the Annex, but I sure wish I had some pics from the final guys versus girls game. With about thirty people to a team, the guys not being allowed to spike, and the ref being determined to keep his son-in-law in line, it was quite hilarious.

I also got to go on a short hike to Caledonia, but we had a dinner deadline for two of the girls, so we weren’t out for THAT long. Muddy, steamy, and just nice to be back in Pennsylvania. Though, there was a bit of a speed competition going on between the cousins, but they had to slow up for a family photo, at one of the bridges.

Babies and kids, seemingly everywhere. Some of them, I just met, and others, I’ve known them since babyhood. How did they get so big? How did all my friends come to have children that are SO cute? I cannot resist taking pictures when they’re around, because who doesn’t want to capture this time in their lives?

At our Second Annual Justin-Sponsored Picnic, after the speech, and after the guys made sure the hotdogs were thoroughly cooked, I got to hang out with two of the girls that were making friends. One had just learned to point at her eye and nose, so there was a near-catastrophe when she tried to point at someone else’s nose. We switched to “where’s her nose?”, instead of “where’s her eyes?”, and then they began to play follow-the-leader around the picnic tables. Such a precious age.

My time there wasn’t really long enough, but I know I’ll be back, sometime in the New Year, and then I can talk to more people, one-on-one. There are friendships that never grow old, and you just keep making them stronger and stronger. These are the ones that you go “home” for. Because when I’m with those that I love, I am home.

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