I promise that one of these days I'm going to get my act together and blog in real time and not weeks after the fact....ok maybe not in real time, but somewhat more timely than I am now. Sheesh! However, in my defense I've barely had time to think much less write! The last month or so since I last posted has been insane. I feel like I say that all the time, but it's so true! I blink and weeks have passed amidst constant activity. So...for now....here's a rundown of the last three weeks:
April 9-11: Bulgaria. Yep. I said Bulgaria. Lynda and I jetted off to Sofia, Bulgaria for the weekend. Why Bulgaria you ask? Well...let's just say it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. We flew in on Friday morning, checked in to our hotel, and went out to explore. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but I wasn't disappointed. Sofia is a city that's trying to attract tourists, but it lacks many of the mainstays needed to attract tourists from the West...like restaurants, public transportation, and an alphabet that is recognizable to Westerners! :) (The cyrillic alphabet makes navigation fairly difficult) Nonetheless, we had a good time. We visited the Alexander Nesvick Memorial Cathedral (beautiful!), ate dinner at a traditional Bulgarian restaurant with traditional Bulgarian dancing/singing (yummy and fun), and saw many other sites. Plus! There was a Starbucks! I am still kicking myself for not buying the Sofia city mug...what was I thinking?!
April 14-17: Venice: We returned to the city of canals for 3 nights/4 days with students. Yep. Venice remains my favorite city in the world. And it was even better this time because 1) I didn't sprain my ankle, and 2) I celebrated my birthday on the 16th!! Woo hoo!!! The big 3-ahem in Venice. Hey, if I can't be with friends and family....why not be in Venice? We had a really great trip with gorgeous weather. Lynda and I explored areas of Venice that we'd never been to before and I took lots of great pics with my new camera. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) For my birthday I was serenaded by my students outside of the Peggy Guggenheim museum (which despite a little mishap involving the men's room, a lamp, and a student's jacket is still standing) and then they surprised me at the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. What more could a girl ask for?! Although...the time in Venice was overshadowed a bit (no pun intended really) by a large cloud of ash that was preventing flights to and from Europe from operating after a volcano in Iceland erupted. There was some concern that the students' flight 10 days later would be affected by the ash cloud.
April 21-28: Last week: The last week of the semester arrived in such a fashion that I had to pause for a moment and really ask myself where the semester went. Seriously, this semester FLEW by. I do not remember a semester before this ever going so fast in my whole life. It was as if we blinked and it was over.
There were lots of "lasts" that students wanted to squeeze in before they departed Rome for the US. We managed to get a lot in there...including finishing up our Office marathon of the first 5 seasons. Whew! My RA managed to hold his last event: Icelandic Volcano Explosion Sensation. Ha! Take that cloud of ash. It was a great event. Then, on our last night together we all went to dinner in Porta Pia and afterwards I went with several students to what's supposed to be the best gelateria in Rome: Oldbridge. Well, let me tell you...I was not disappointed. Delish! So yummy that I plan on spending some time there after I drop friends off at the Vatican museum. (You didn't think I'd go there again without students did you? Heck no!) Then, the next morning Lynda and I escorted the students to the airport and stayed with them until they got thru security. Again, where did this semester go!?
All in all it was a great semester. I so enjoyed spending time with the students and getting to know them. God blessed me so much with the relationships that I developed with them and the experiences that we shared. He truly answered my prayers and poured out His grace upon me and our students this past semester. I give all praise and glory to Jesus!
There's so much going on the next month and 22 days before I head home. (Yep...started my countdown!) On May 11 a group from another college arrives for about 14 days. Then, my good friends Anthony and Jill are coming to Rome to see me and check out Rome and Italy. They leave and 2 days later my former student, Josiah, comes to see me. Not sure what we're going to do yet, but so excited! Then, while he's here my friends Gabe and Amber are popping down to Rome from Prague for a weekend. Finally, Brady and Heidi arrive in mid-June for 2 weeks. I cannot wait to introduce my friends to my life here and to Rome. It's going to be amazing and I am so blessed to have people who want to spend their hard earned money to come and see me....granted they get to visit an amazing city, but I know a lot of why they're coming is also to see me...and for that I am so thankful. I have incredible friends.
God is good. He has proven Himself faithful time and time again this semester and this year. There were times where I stood back and asked Him what He was thinking when He led me here, but I know that this is where I am meant to be. I know this is where He wants me...and I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be than where God wants me. I have high hopes for the coming semesters and trust that He goes before me and that I will be used for His glory. Grazie mille!!!!