Friday, October 17, 2008


Well, now that almost a year has gone by I figure it is time that I get working on documenting our trip from Okinawa to Italy, to Israel, to Germany, to Seattle, to Oklahoma! Wow! The beginning of the trip sounds pretty exciting, but the end...not so much!

We left Okinawa and flew (not direct, of course) to Rome where we rented a car and drove to Sicily! It was an absolutely beautiful drive. I wish we had more pictures of the scenery. Just picture it being green and hilly with random sheep spotting the land and castle ruins in the background. It was spectacular!

Here are the kids crammed in the back of our little rental car. Janie looks so different now and I'm sure she wouldn't be nearly as cooperative as a two year old as she was then (as a 15 month old) with all of the time we spent driving. We drove to Napoli (Naples) the first night, which wasn't too far. We had to go to the BX and find a blanket for Janie because we lost hers in the airport at Rome. I walked all the way back to the tram and told the security guys that I couldn't find my baby's blanket. They got on the tram and looked, but it was nowhere to be found. Luckily, there is a BX in Okinawa also and they had the same blanket. No big loss!! Then we went to bed. We were all so exhausted from the flight. Janie actually fell asleep in the shopping cart at the BX with the blanket under her head.

When we had driven as far south as Reggio Calabria we had to take a ferry across to Sicilia (Sicily). This is us hanging out on the ferry. It is so awesome to watch as you leave mainland and to see the island of Sicily across the way. This was a perfect break from sitting in the car!Our first night in Sicily we stayed in the city of Catania, which happens to be where the mission office is for the Catania mission, which also happens to be the same mission in which I served. It was fun driving through the city and seeing familiar sights and surroundings. The next morning we got up and headed out for Palermo (the biggest city on Sicily). As we drove we made some stops to check out different castle ruins, stretch our legs, etc... In case you don't know Jeremy.....he tends to be just a LITTLE bit of a castle fanatic. It actually was amazing that we even made it to Palermo that day (night). Those of you who DO know Jeremy are laughing right now because you know exactly what I am talking about and you WISH you had been there with us!!!:) This castle was in the city of Enna and it was very fun to climb to the top with Janie in the stroller and look out at an astonishing view!!! There was some sort of festival going on there that night and everyone was all dressed up in their renaissance costumes. It took every ounce of me to convince Jeremy that we would live without participating in the festival. I'm sure it would have been fun, but we had a schedule to keep and I tend to be a little extreme when it comes to things of that nature.

We made it to Bagheria, a little town outside of Palermo, where we stayed three days with our friends Giusy and Toto. The kids latched onto them like little leeches. They couldn't communicate, but they sat at the table and colored with them and Joseph just talked to Toto as if they had known each other forever!! It was fun to watch them interact. This is Giusy, one of my very dear friends, with Joseph and Jessie.

The next day we decided to take a trip to Agrigento to see some Greek temple ruins. This was just a shot of the kids during one of our stops. I can't remember if they were trying to make Janie laugh or what was going on, but I like this picture of the three of them together.

Here we are in front of one of the temple ruins. We had a fun time running all around and climbing on anything we were allowed to touch. We had a very fun experience while in Agrigento that day. Well, it was fun for us. A whole group of Japanese tourists were there and when they saw us they just came running up and asking if they could take photos with our family and of the children (The Japanese love little white, blonde headed babies. I can't even begin to count how many Japanese people have pictures of my kids on their cell phones). I didn't know whether to respond in Japanese or Italian, but it was just like we were home in Okinawa. Joseph was thrilled to speak the 5 words of Japanese that he knew to try and impress! When we first got to Okinawa I had such a hard time because anytime someone would speak to me in Japanese I would answer in Italian. It is the only other language I know so that is what would come out. It was funny to have the opposite happen to me while in Italy.

Giusy was off of work the next morning so we went on a walking tour of Palermo. The kids were such troopers. I really didn't know that kids could walk so much in three weeks, but I'm pretty sure they could do a 5k with no problem. This is Giusy and Jessie balancing on the stones in the courtyard of the cathedral in Palermo.

This is a picture of the kids and I standing in front of the door to the apartment that I lived in for 10 months of my mission! I loved walking up to that door and explaining to them that that was where mommy was a missionary. We bought some pizzas from the guy on the corner who had just bought the store when I was there as a missionary. He was still there with his two daughters. We talked and laughed about the old times.
Later than evening we met up at Giusy's mom's house with her two sisters Antonella and Francesca. This is Francesca and her daughter Florinda. We then went back to Giusy and Toto's house where we ate dinner together. It was just like haning out with family!! This is a few of us that were eating that night. I don't know where everyone else was, like my other children, but obviously they were somewhere close by because we still have them today. The boy sitting in between Giusy and Francesca is Riccardo. He is Antonella's oldest son who just happened to be born while I was serving there. Kinda makes me feel a little OLD!!!
Here we are just after church. Giusy's mom and her sister, Antonella (and family) do not belong to our faith, but they came that day and then we all went back to Giusy's for a traditional MONSTER family meal. We were just missing Francesca and Florinda that day. They go to another branch and had church while we were eating. Giusy's mom is such a crack up! She kept calling me "Sorella," which is sister in Italian. She said she just couldn't help it and then she would rattle off some piece of advice that I was supposed to give Jeremy. He was awesome all through this leg of the trip, which really was meant for my enjoyment. He interacted and talked with everyone and, other than the language barrier, felt right at home. It was one of my most cherished experiences with my husband and my children to have them meet and get to know some of the people who are most dear to my heart and the land to which I feel so connected.

The last hotel we stayed in the night before we flew out of Rome wasn't exactly big enough for our family of 5. Jessie still managed to find a place to wash her hands though....maybe I should have had her use the sink....

So, we put Joseph and Janie to sleep in the bed then later moved Joseph out to the couch in the kitchenette. Janie stayed in the bed with us, and Jessie???? Well, someone had to sleep in the closet. We threw some cushions on the floor from the back of the couch, a couple of blankets for a sheet, and pillow and voila! a bed for Jessie! It worked out for most of the night. She only kinda fell out of bed (or the closet) a couple of times.

We made it to the airport by 3:30 am or something like that for our flight heading to Tel Aviv, which will be another post on another day. This has been my longest blogging session by far and it is bed time for me.

Although I loved our whole trip, this probaby was the highlight for me so, thank you Jeremy for surprising me and taking me back!!!


This is kind of like saying "Go Italy." It is something the Italians always say and it seemed an appropriate end to this post.