Yes, it is JOYous to have half of my family back home with me after an entire week without them. But the JOY part of that title up there is actually a totally different kind of JOY...the kind that lives in Allen and that we've all missed in our lives since we left her there two months ago.
Joy texted me shortly after we moved here with a plan to surprise the girls by catching a ride to Alabama with some friends during the week of July 18th. I was so sad to have to tell her that Megan and Emma wouldn't even be available to see her because they would be at Girls' Camp. But somehow everything worked out and I was able to pick Joy up yesterday from her friends' house in Arley, AL about 2 hours from here. Yep, it's been a week of a HECK of a lot of driving and unfortunately not very much free time to take any pictures...but at least I now know where I want to drive BACK to in the future.
I'm not the best at surprises, especially when there's planning involved, and holy cow! this one was hard to keep a secret from my girls who ask a TON of questions and want to know the details of everything before it happens. Where in the world do they get that from? I had to make sure I had enough room in the van to bring Joy back from Camp along with all the other girls I had already committed to drive. I had to work out plans with my mom who was actually supposed to come HERE for the week. And on Monday night, we will have to get Joy back to Arley, which will mean another 4 hours of driving to look forward to.
But...this morning, seeing this when we walked into Camp, made all the marathon driving, hoop-jumping and secret-keeping totally worth it...
They were completely surprised and SO happy!
Joy and I spent a little more time at Camp today than we intended to. We were both so excited to get there that we left the house this morning at 6:30 and got to Camp Hulaco in time to finish breakfast with the girls around 8:15. Then we helped them clean their cabins and load the van. Our ward was also in charge of cleaning the showers in both bathrooms...there are FOUR of them...we did not help with that. And finally at 11:00 everyone met in the pavilion for the awards ceremony and final thoughts from the leaders. By the time everything was over and girls were loaded in vans, it was after 12:00 and people were hungry again. With a 90 minute drive home, we definitely needed to stop and feed them, which put us at the church to reunite girls and stuff with their parents at about 2:45. It's normally a 20-minute drive to our house from the church when you take the back way and you don't get lost. We got home at 3:30. And then showers and laundry (which isn't even close to finished)...and now it's 10:30 and I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.
During all that in-between time this morning, though, I did manage to get some great pictures of the girls in our ward...and when I found out that a photography release was included on all the forms the girls' parents had signed before camp, I took a bazillion pictures of the whole stake. Which I will be submitting to the church. Hallelujah, cuz that calling has definitely NOT been magnified this week...
...that whole picture part of my day almost made me wish I had been at camp for the entire week...no nevermind, it didn't at all make me wish that. I'm pretty happy with the week I had. :)
and best of all...baby birds!!
I am so grateful today for the many, many hands (which have not yet had to be mine) who spend countless hours in every place we've ever lived, making Girls' Camp a wonderful experience for ALL the girls. This was a long, HOT week for everyone, but they were all still smiling and happy and singing songs at the end of it, and that is sign of some great leaders.
Megan and Emma are so happy to finally be back home, and they're even happier about the unexpected JOY-filled weekend they're going to have. What a great end to a really great week.