On the New Orleans-to-Atlanta leg, there were monitors on the backs of each seat and many members of the group played electronic trivia against each other.
We had about an hour-and-a-half layover in Atlanta, where after lunch, we gathered to reveal everyone’s “Secret Buddy” for the week, each receiving a letter of observation and affirmation. This was a heart-warming exercise, in which each of us got a glimpse of ourselves through one of our new friends in service and in life.
Kat Henry revealed herself as my secret buddy, and here's what she wrote to me:
I never thought I'd be writing a "Dear John" letter haha!
You have been such an easy-going, positive influence this week. I noticed that whenever the group wanted to do one thing or another, you were always open-minded and up for anything. You never ONCE complained... EVER! Even though there was a lot of driving (and not always necessary), you never complained of being tired or annoyed.
Your super-positive attitude was contagious and I whole-heartedly respect that. I looked up to you when I was tired or fed-up with painting, as an example, and checked my attitude.
Whenever we had reflection, you seemed to care more about unity than our situation. For example, the first time we did our hi-lo game, you said your low was not the housing situation itself, but what it did for the whole group—split us from the Maryland people. That stuck out to me as such a selfless trait. We were all upset about limited showers or beds, but you just wanted everyone to get along. Your favorite part of the trip, according to what you said at the beach was that our group bonded so well.
I have so much respect for you. And I am so glad you were on this trip. Thank you for keeping up with the blog, for making us laugh with your "that's what she said" jokes, and for keeping this week light-hearted!
Had a great time!!
<3 Kat H.
The group also presented a small iTunes gift certificate with a card of thanks to Jackie, our awesome student leader, for all of her energy and time put into both planning the trip and leading us throughout the week.
The Atlanta-to-Raleigh flight was on time and uneventful, just the way we like flights. In Raleigh, the team said their final goodbyes and gently dispersed to share their experience with friends, family, or loved ones, and to carry on with a fresh perspective on service.
Joe graciously picked me up at the airport and we stopped by my house for about an hour so I could shower before heading out with him.
Robert had vacuumed my place while I was gone, and it looked great. He also sent me a very sweet e-mail that said:
|Subject: Welcome homo!!!|
I know you are glad to be back. Congratulations on a great job being a parent! Hehehe. I know that all the victims that are benefiting from all of your help are extremely grateful. I am proud of you, my sweet man. I love you.
Have some good food, rest and fun...not necessarily in that order. Talk to you soon, but know that you will be needing some downtime, so no worries on how soon.
After my quick shower, Joe and I headed to MoJoe's Burger Joint for dinner, where we each had a club sandwich and split a basket of fries. I had a bourbon and Diet Coke, my first drink in nine days. Who's counting?
After that, we went to Flex, where the "Sunderwear" crowd was still there, and then a little bit later the karaoke "crowd" (such that it was) arrived. Juan Carlos and Paul were both out, neither of whom I'd seen in a while.
Several people commented on my tan. Yay for that.