Friday, August 9, 2013

#StowellSummer2013 ... that's a wrap!

In a nutshell:
8 pieces of luggage
4 flights
3 states
3 timezones
11 temporary homes/beds (including 3 air mattresses, 12 pets => lots of Claritin, and minimal air conditioning)
COUNTLESS memories with family & MANY friends!

Where to start? Well, our summer truly began in mid-May and continued across the country, in Los Angeles, during the month of June. I wish I could concise all that I learned at Athletes in Action's Urban Project - Los Angeles about God, people, and the Gospel... but I truly cannot. It was an experience I will never forget and one that will forever influence how I view the world and those around me (for the better). And in the midst of all the learning and growth that was happening, for me personally, I got to spend the month ministering to and serving alongside 25 college students from across the country!

Then there's July. So Urban Project came to an end and Tyler and I were headed where we'd never been before... to explore California. In the planning stages of our summer we were faced with the dilemma to.... either fly back to NJ from LA for the roughly two weeks in between the end of Urban Project and the start of Cru's National Staff Conference that we'd be attending in Colorado OR stay on the west coast and fly to Colorado from there. As we looked closely at these options, it made much more [financial] sense for us to take advantage of already being in California and visiting the many friends (and family!) we have out there. So we did =) and it was awesome.

We visited and stayed with friends Brendan & Jenna in Mission Viejo and enjoyed quality time in the sunshine!

We then visited and stayed with friends in Huntington Beach. And during our visit we hiked along the Laguna Coast...

with Tommy!

And then we were off on our drive north, end destination: Sacramento.

Made a quick stop at the Rose Bowl

and enjoyed the lovely roses (well, I did).

To break up our drive, we stopped at (Rutgers Volleyball player) Ali's parents' beach house for the night and got to hear all about her time at AIA's Ultimate Training Camp!

As we drove along the coast, we spotted Elephant Seals!

And we were captivated by many many stunning views.

As we arrived for an evening in San Francisco, we then made yet another football stop at Candlestick Park.

Then we trekked over to the "Full House" house!

And finally made it to Fisherman's Wharf for dinner and a touristy visit.

We arrived in Sacramento and I got to visit with Stacy, a friend I met as a student on a Cru Summer Project in 2008! 

And we got to spend quality time with my aunt, uncle, and cousin-(not pictured). It had been about 10 years since we'd spent time together (or since I'd seen my aunt and cousin)! 

They took us to a gold mine...

and to see wine country!

All in all, a sweet time spent in California =) Then, we were off to Colorado for our conference. 

Our first night, we stayed with one of my college roommates and her boyfriend. It was so nice to spend some time with them!

Then we spent the next ten days on campus at Colorado State University, where we heard from our organizations leadership, worshipped with our co-laborers, and encountered God. It was a wonderful time of refreshment and connection with God and friends.

To wrap up our summer, we headed south to Florida for two weeks -- and boy was it hot! I seemed to have forgotten just how hot and HUMID it is in the summertime. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful time and it went by so fast as we visited with family, friends, former AIA students at USF, and ministry partners. 

A summer we'll surely never forget. Thank you to those of you who made it special =) We arrived back to our humble abode in New Jersey earlier this week. Since, we've gotten to catch up with a few friends here, kept the washer and dryer BUSY, and successfully unpacked all eight pieces of luggage! We're grateful to be back and eager to start the 2013-2014 school year with Athletes in Action at Rutgers!!

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