// U.S. Trip // Part One

In January, we received the happy news that one of our cousins was planning to marry a lovely woman in July. By July, I had decided to go if I could get tickets under a certain price. Also, David & Carolyn planned to go if they could get tickets cheap enough. David and I both have a winter holiday from university, so the wedding was perfectly timed.

So, I was praying, they were praying. We all wanted cheap tickets, but because it’s holiday season in both countries (I guess that’s the reason, anyhow), cheap tickets were not to be found. I began telling God that I “really want to go, but I want to be sure you want me to go”, and kept looking. Somehow, one of David’s mum’s friends knew of a travel agent in California that gets good deals. David contacted this agent, and she found Delta tickets for much cheaper than anything we had previously been quoted. Carolyn and David booked their tickets and then Carolyn did her best to persuade me to come with them on the same dates. I found out that I could go with them, leaving the day after my exams finished, so I asked the travel agent to book a ticket for me, too. I chose a return date a week later than David & Carolyn, and she booked tickets for me. A few minutes later, I asked if I could change the return date because I realized it was on a Sunday. She answered back and said, “No, tickets just jumped up about $800 since we booked your tickets” (no more than an hour later).

Later on, she told David that she wonders if there was a computer glitch somewhere that allowed us to get these deals because prices from then on were a $1,000 higher than what we paid. (I love when “God” gets called awesome names like “Computer Glitch”.)

So, the week before I left, I took one exam, studied for the next one, took another exam and then packed my bags that night (that explains the thrown-together mess inside my suitcases!). The next morning, I took the 6 a.m. train down to the Brisbane airport, and thus, a month of holiday began.

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I met David & Carolyn in Sydney and we made the 24-hour trek with them all the way to Columbus Ohio.

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And once there, we were greeted with happy, wonderful grandparents and comfortable beds. These grandparents were with us for David & Carolyn’s wedding. It was really special to see them so soon afterward.

We had a glorious week in Ohio! We got to enjoy the summer — beautiful summer storms, long evenings (light until 9:00? Yes, please!), and gorgeous flowers. These are Grandma’s flower gardens. Aren’t they beautiful? She and Grandpa both work hard to make her hobby into beauty like this.

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All but three of my mom’s siblings live in Ohio within 20 minutes of Grandpa’s place. They all came over one day with their children and we all mulched the flower gardens. One aunt and her family came from North Carolina came for the week while were there, as well.


It was so lovely to be with our relatives again. We grew up knowing them and interacting with them, but as children, not adults. It’s interesting now to go back to visit and get to know them all over again adult-to-adult. We spent most evenings together.

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I have 18 first cousins on my mom’s side. They are all younger than I am, so most of them felt like nieces and nephews. They are truly precious.


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It was wonderful to see these two, an uncle and aunt that live out of state. They stopped in for part of an afternoon, and then returned on the weekend and stayed for a whole day with the rest of the family.

Also, there are three little boy cousins all about the same age as my sister Charis. They didn’t get along perfectly the whole week as evidenced by the picture above (caught red-handed!). They made me miss my own little siblings. It did take a lot of work to win their hearts, however. I went out and bought candy to bribe reticent children. It worked nearly every time. 🙂

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Did I mention cute? He’s the newest cousin. We were so pleased to meet him. He was only a few weeks old.

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This uncle married this lady last  year and he chose well! They’re getting ready to have a baby, and are remodeling a cute little house with a red door and a red front porch.

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One of my favourite evenings: most of the children went swimming while we ladies sat by the pool and chatted. Later on, the men joined us, and we made smores.
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This dog loves Grandma. And my uncle & aunt have wonderful views from their property.
And these guys like cornhole.
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David & Carolyn stayed in Ohio just over a week, and then flew to Georgia to be with my dad’s family. I was able to stay for two days longer, so the Sunday that they went to the airport, I joined my uncle & aunt and their family at a local hospital. We sang in the halls with some of their church people, then went to a park for lunch. I spent the afternoon with their lovely family.
(The aforementioned lovely family.)
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Look at this amazing sky! Sunsets are so creative of God.
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We had so much lovely food…I couldn’t take photos of everything (being guests, we were served so many yummy dishes so often. It’s a royal situation if one is hungry constantly!). I must confess that I ate at Taco Bell three times while I was in the States (thus the documentation). It’s Mexican fast food and it’s so yummy and cheap. (Here’s a photo, just because.)
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(My aunt and her husband own the cutest little cottage.)
Re-connecting with relatives was delightful. We mostly spent time doing that. But, we also met several friends throughout our trip, and that was absolutely wonderful. I met up with this friend one afternoon after touring Holmescounty. I met her several years ago, and it almost didn’t work for us to see each other. But, we snuck in a quick hour at a coffee shop and talked rapidly. It ended too quickly.
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And I got to be with this girl, too, one afternoon. That was a short two hours, as well. Cold Stone BerryBerryBerry icecream is so yummy.
Speaking of friends: David, Carolyn & I made a day-trip up to Guys Mills (Pennsylvania) to visit their friends, Shannon & Joella Lehman. They worked in Poland while Carolyn lived there and David stayed with them when he went to visit. I liked them immediately and we shared a wonderful day together.
(They have a beautiful dam on their property. Also, I loved being with these two favourite people this trip. We made lots of happy memories together.)
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Mr. Russell (pictured below) joined us for lunch at Shannon & Joella’s place. He spent time with us in Australia at the end of last year, giving teaching on Anabaptist History. He & Shannon offered to take us on tour of Faith Builders (see more about this college here: http://www.fbep.org/). We met Mr. Brubaker who pulled out his scientific paraphernalia and showed us some great experiments. My dream is to attend a term there someday , and our little tour made that desire even more intense.We got to tour the buildings and meet administration staff.
Our grandparents took us to Holmescounty one afternoon. We went to the Walnut Creek Cheese Factory and Behalt, and stopped at a few garage sales and op-shops along the way.

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Sappy, I know (I made them feed each other, just because), but aren’t they sweet?

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I am always amazed by the sheer amount of choice in the States. So many brands of the same thing (fabric softener, detergent, bread, cereal, etc.) in one place. This shop (Walnut Creek) was no exception. I could’ve spent much money here, buying little things that brought back U.S. nostalgic memories (I didn’t, I promise). Instead, we just bought a few things, and icecream. 
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These kinds of evenings are the best kinds of evenings, I believe.
(Please excuse the phone picture scattered throughout. That’s all I had with me most of the time.)
And thus ends my flood of pictures from our Ohio stay. I will be share about Kansas (the wedding of course!) and Arkansas in the next post.

One thought on “// U.S. Trip // Part One

  1. Thanks the update on life in Australia (or rather, about the happenings of certain ones who live in Australia :)). I always enjoy your updates and photos. Pictures have a way of involving the readers and helping them ‘picture’ the people and places.

    It’s always interesting hearing about the lives of other missionaries, and maybe especially so when it’s another big family (with lots of girls!) that’s been gone from the US for about as long as we have been. Sadly, our time in Belize is coming to an end in September. We feel God is calling us back to Pennsylvania. For now at least. Although there are things that look exciting — like experiencing the four seasons again, being close to grandparents and cousins, shopping at thrift stores:), etc. there are also things that have us feeling a little apprehensive. And, of course, there are things we will miss very much — our church family, the little neighbor children that come spend time with us, the warm-climate culture, our many special friends scattered through out the country…. My oldest sister will be staying to teach school here (it will be her eleventh year) and the sister just older than me will also be staying in Belize, with her husband. It will be tough leaving them behind but will also give us good reason to come back for visits, although I think we’d have enough reason without them staying 🙂

    Blessings, Annie Stoltzfus


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