I got there early (of course) and got to see the action of setting up and meet Mona, another woman whose name I recognized from The City, who also happened to be Ciara's mom. She was so sweet and surprised me by giving me a beautiful hat and scarf that she had crocheted! Chris made sure he found me a shirt, because Alma had been telling me since Thursday that I needed to get one.
apparently a burnt orange (the color of the University of Texas) Live for More t-shirt makes me a winner. so says Chris, anyway. ;)
I loved getting to see firsthand what a service was like after only knowing the sermons online for a year. And of course, I ended up sitting right next to a girl, Alexis, who never posts on The City but follows everything on there and knew me from that. The funny thing was, she showed up a few minutes late, but her boyfriend Sam knew who I was because she had told him about me. I ended up not being able to make it through, though, because my health would just not cooperate. Alexis came and took care of me after that service so that Alma didn't have to miss, and it was a beautiful time of getting to know her. Sam would have been there, too, but he had to go help a friend.
Eventually we got back to Alma's house. I was going to take a nap, but ended up hanging out with Alex and Ciara until they left for youth group with Dennis.
See...I made Alex take a smiling picture with me, too. I think I managed to get him to do it by reminding him that I was leaving the next day. ;) Just kidding! He's as sweet as his brother, at least to me. :p I don't think he minded my penchant for pictures.
The funniest thing about that bit of hanging out with them was that somehow Ciara started trying to draw pictures of me. They are hilarious. And yes, I took pictures of them.
#1 - we both agreed that she gave me a butt nose. so that led to...
#2 - in which I have tiny puckered lips and a very pointy chin and long neck. Apparently Ciara is a bit of a perfectionist (I can totally relate), so she went for...
#3 - where she got so tired of messing up my nose that she decided not to give me one at all. but when I mentioned it, she added to it...
Boom. Don't ask me why she drew it like that. Ciara is an enigma. ;) One final attempt before they left for youth group led to this....
#5. The dinosaur was not planned. It happened after she decided she didn't like the original shape of my head, and then when she drew a new line for my chin, she just suddenly went, "Oooo! Dinosaur!"
Then, they had to leave for youth group and I slept for almost 3 hours. I woke up just in time to eat a late dinner, and I finished right as they returned with a carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I told them that I would wake up to hang out with them for the night (I needed to wake up to eat and take my medicine anyway), so Alex told me they'd bring back some ice cream, and they so sweetly brought my favorite. Ciara and I devoured that thing as we, Alex, and Dennis sat around watching several episodes of How I Met Your Mother. I've never seen that show before, but it's funny!
Alma and Francisco went to bed around 10:00, I think, and the four of us stayed up goofing off. We were dancing around like idiots, and with some nudging from Ciara and me, I got to see Alex twerk. Ha! The self-proclaimed grumpy old grandpa actually twerked. It was hysterical. Dennis kept saying he couldn't do it because he doesn't have a butt like Alex. I think the skinny jeans also helped. (You're welcome, Alex. Now the world knows you can twerk. :p) We danced around to the Cha Cha Slide and the Cupid Shuffle until I just couldn't anymore because my asthma kicked in. I also may or may not have rapped them the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song for them. The details cannot be confirmed. ;)
Once we sort of got tired of music, we just started talking about all sorts of random stuff, and something Alex and Ciara mentioned made me think of these two funny videos from the comedian Jim Gaffigan on McDonald's and Hot Pockets. So I played them for them on their laptop.
And then the computer died. So we just sat around being weird together some more. Including taking group selfies.
I also went up and took a shower at one point. Finally about 1 am, we all decided we had to get to bed. The boys had school in the morning, but they just said they were having so much fun that they would rather hang out with me. So who was I to complain? ;) Before Ciara headed home, she came over and gave me a big hug (since I was leaving in the morning) and then she just sort of fell on me, so I got Alex to take a picture of it. :)
Believe it or not, those few hours of hanging out with Alex, Ciara, and Dennis, they were the highlight of the weekend. I'm not sure why, but it was just so sweet and special. Sitting around with them felt so natural. And I had no idea I could have so much fun with a 19 year old, 17 year old, and 13 year old. But if you had walked in, or observed that scene as a stranger, I don't think you would have had any idea that we'd only known each other a couple of days. That time meant so much to me that on the spur of the moment, I asked if we could all pray together before Ciara went home. I was so unbelievably happy that I wanted to take the time with them to thank God for the bonds that had been solidified that night. And Ciara prayed, too, and the things that she said were so simple and beautiful. I'm amazed I didn't cry when I went to bed that night.
As if there had been any doubt in my mind before, these guys are my family. And I am so blessed to be able to call them that. :)