Saturday, November 24, 2012

Our Trip to New Orleans: ELCA Youth Gathering, Citizens with the Saints, July 2012

In a continuation of my photo dump from July 2012, I wanted to touch on the trip my DH and I took to New Orleans.  Shortly before our wedding, the pastor of our church e-mailed me to ask if I would act as the third chaperone during a mission trip/youth gathering in New Orleans in July.  He said I was the first person they thought of when deciding to ask an additional chaperone to attend (yes, I was shocked by this!).  I was pretty harried at the time and said "sure" but only if my soon-to-be husband could come as well.  My pastor said "yes" and like that, I was suddenly about to be in charge of a bunch of teenagers when I often feel like one myself!

Suffice it to say, my husband and I both agree this trip was life-changing.  Along with with our pastor, our friend C, the hubby and I herded chaperoned 17 (yes, seventeen) kids ages 14-17 from the Main Line to New Orleans.  We learned so much during this trip--patience (something I don't have any much of and God definitely used this trip to test it/develop it), a little about the culture and feel of New Orleans, grace, the mission of the Lutheran Church, and a bit about what it's like to be a teenager in the Twitter/Facebook age.

The theme of the youth gathering was "Citizens with the Saints" and it was eye-opening.  We were invited to come to New Orleans and I believe there were about 33,000 teenagers from all around the U.S. (not counting the chaperones) and the city and people of New Orleans were incredibly gracious hosts to our massive crowd.  The gathering centered around service projects (ours was cleaning up LaFreniere Park) and various activities to open the eyes of the attendees to be more accepting and loving of our peers.  The speakers at the gathering were absolutely amazing and proof you don't have to look or act a certain way to identify yourself as a Christian.  I loved this message and it really spoke to the teenagers from our church as well.  I was particularly impressed with Nadia Bolz-Weber and Shane Claiborne and their messages of acceptance and Christ's love.

I kept up a live Facebook page during the gathering so our generous church family who helped raise the funds to send 21 of us to New Orleans could follow along.  I think I took a couple hundred photos, and I wanted to share some for posterity.  In light of privacy of our chaperonees, here are some photos of our trip:

Awesome self-pic while waiting for the economy parking bus at the airport! 
My pastor and I at our hotel in New Orleans upon arrival
Pool in the central courtyard at our hotel
The Superdome, home base for the Youth Gathering
Nightly church services in the Superdome... gives you an idea of the size of the event!
Only part of the 33K teenage attendees!
A delicious Ferdi sandwich at Mother's Restaurant
The DH and I!  Love those Lilly Pulitzer shorts
New Orleans had some minor flooding while we were there; scary to say the least
Gives you an idea of how easily this city floods
My first (and so far only) hornet bite of my life during our service project
Ready to work!
Our hotel was on Bourbon St., this is the aftermath each morning that has to be cleaned up every day
Sleepy chaperones waiting for beignets!
Cafe du Monde!  They were DELICIOUS
Swamp tour time!
Beautiful scenery on our swamp tour
Yes, it was alive!
Bourbon St at night
My sweet husband wearing his heart (almost literally) on his sleeve!
INSANELY amazing bread pudding at Court of the Two Sisters during our brunch by ourselves before we flew home!
Live jazz music during brunch!
Tired and headed for home!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lauxmont Farms Wedding

On our second weekend of July 2012 travels, we went to central PA for our friends' wedding at Lauxmont Farms.  This has to be one of the most relaxed weddings either of us have attended and it was a great time.  I don't think think I've ever been able to take my drink into a ceremony before, outdoor or otherwise!  They succeeded in creating a great vibe and I loved the centerpieces on each table.  We wish them the best and know this was only the start of a great marriage!

I bought the Lilly Pulitzer dress I wore specifically for this event, but it has become one of my favorite dresses and it made an appearance in September at another friend's rehearsal dinner.  Most people who know me know I am obsessed with shoes.  I also bought the shoes at the Lilly Pulitzer sale for this wedding but found they became a part of my summer wardrobe with the neutral navy and fun bling accents.

Yummy strawberry lemonade with vodka before the ceremony

Ceremony drinks!

Waiting for the bride!

Beautiful bride!

You may now kiss your bride!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Photo Dump: The start of our July 2012 Travels--Maine!

DH and I had a very busy July:  our annual trip to Maine for the 4th to visit my in-laws, our friends' wedding in central PA, chaperoning 17 teenagers from our church on a mission trip for the ELCA in New Orleans, and finally, a bachelor/bachlorette party for my oldest friend and her now-husband in Las Vegas!  (Yes, we did work as well... somebody had to pay for all that traveling!)

First up:  photo dump from our trip to Maine.  My in-laws live in right outside of Portland and we love visiting them every summer (it's warmer--hah--and Maine is GORGEOUS).  My husband went to the end of middle school and all of high school in Maine and I love going to some of his favorite old places and visiting with his friends who still live in the area.

We had a great time at Scarborough State Park (it was actually 80 degrees that day) and FINALLY got to go to Fore Street, which was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and one of the best restaurant experiences I've had recently.  The whole meal was sublime, but I particularly enjoyed my first course, which sampled several different kinds of local seafood (everything at Fore Street is sourced locally and the menu constantly changes), including periwinkle, which I'd never had until this meal.  I hope we go back next summer!

A lot of these pictures feature Peaks Island.  One of my favorite things we have now made an annual tradition is to take the ferry from Portland across Casco Bay and trek the several miles on foot around the perimeter of Peaks.  Although there are cars on Peaks, many of them are "island use only," which always cracks me up.  Otherwise, you have to take your car on the ferry.  Children who live on Peaks year-round have to take the ferry to school (I cannot IMAGINE how cold that wind must be in the winter, even if you stay on the lower, inside deck of the boat!). 

One of my favorite, quirky features of Peaks is the Umbrella Cover Museum.  This year, our trip was simultaneous with the museum making the Guiness Book of World Records.  We met the owner, Nancy, and she was even on TV that evening and we saw her interview.  Very cool!  :-)  Highly recommended for a quick pop in if only to say you've been--she literally does have more umbrella covers than I've ever seen anywhere else!  As Nancy pointed out to us, she "celebrates the mundane."

Enough pontificating, here's the photographic record: