some of you are already aware that we spent a couple of weeks in california in the second half of july. it was a fun time, seeing family and friends and favourite restaurants and places, but for our girls, it wasn't nearly long enough. i find that the trip is a mixed experience for them. on the one hand, it's a major joy to be 'home,' in a place that feels welcoming and familiar; on the other, it's a two-week reminder of all that they struggle with here in montreal: the weather (major humidity and thunderstorms during the summer), the animosity towards americans, even the absence of certain foods (notably, good mexican food and favourites like chili cheese fries). they talk to old friends about their school experiences in berkeley, knowing that if things had fallen differently, that might have been their own school experience. processing those feelings is still a significant part of our walk with Jesus here in montreal.
we flew from montreal to los angeles, and after visiting with friends and family for a day, took our rental car (a jeep cherokee) up to northern california. the experience of driving an suv for a couple of weeks made me wonder why anyone would want to own one; it wasn't that big inside, and the gas mileage (with gas hovering around $3.50usd/gallon) was just awful. it did, however, get us to where we wanted to go — from los angeles to san jose, in 40C/100F+ heat all the way! surprisingly, we found the heat quite comfortable compared to montreal, as it was very dry.
once we got to san jose, we settled in at a guest home (provided by generous church friends, who make it available to visiting missionaries) and embarked on our busy schedule of visiting family and friends. to be honest, we were over-scheduled by about 50%. we're finally realizing that we need to host large get-togethers in 3-4 venues when we visit, and have people come to us; otherwise, we spend the entire vacation driving from friend to friend, and still only see a small slice of the folks we want to see. of course, we didn't come to that realization until just before we left, so while we had multiple meeting locations (one in san jose, one in berkeley, one in santa rosa), the planning and invitations were later than we wanted. even so, we still enjoyed visiting with friends in all three locations, and had the chance to hang out with b's family on several occasions as well. one other memorable day was a visit to stanford university where b may apply this fall.
the southern california portion of the trip was a bit more sane in terms of pace. we got in some restful days at the beach (the photo above is from zuma beach, just north of malibu), visited with m's family (including grandma p, who is a perennial favourite) and a few friends. at the end of the week, we drove up to santa maria for the wedding of a, a former student from the ssu intervarsity group. she's a terrific, beautiful woman and probably had other opportunities to get married, but waited until she felt the confirmation from God that this was the right one and the right time, which i really respect. it was a joy to be able to celebrate with her and her groom, as well as to connect with so many former ssu and srjc students (see group photo), and to see them married, having children, and starting the process of passing on their faith to the next generation. God has been so faithful for so long to so many!