Man, I need a vacation!

On the first day of kindergarten, a teacher stands before her class of wriggling, giggling children. She explains that in school, there are certain rules that they need to learn. Most importantly, if one has something to say, one should raise their hands first.

A little girl in the third row shoots her hand up, and before the teacher can hardly call on her, announces brightly, I have a lot to say!”

Well, folks, that’s me (both literally and figuratively). There are about a million things I could say about my vacation at home, my sister’s wedding, my niece Sydney (who reigns currently as the world’s cutest child), or even the Fourth of July I got to spend with my extended family. Instead I will just sum it up: it was all formidable (wonderful). Yeah, I know that’s one French word that doesn’t seem to translate well. I am raising the bar on your French education, people.

I really loved being able to spend time with my family. My niece is at an age where she knows just how cute she is, so she likes to giggle and smile and entertain us all. My Aunt Ambra came to help us with the wedding, and she always blesses me just with her zany sense of humor; I know she really prays for me here, too. I got to see most of my extended family either at the wedding or at our July 4th barbecue, including my cousin Elizabeth all the way from California!

My sister’s wedding was really beautiful. I think my mom could be a wedding planner. She should get some kind of award for putting that wedding together in only three months. She sewed the gowns, decorated the church, and more. What a woman! My sister was one of the most relaxed brides I have ever seen. She danced just about her whole reception, laughing and joking with everyone there. She and Andy are really meant for each other. Thank you, Sarah, for waiting until I could be right there next to you. Thank you, Andy, for taking her off our hands, ha ha.

The brand new Severn River Church allowed me to talk to them about missions, and I loved being able to share ideas with a group as open as they are. They are all so committed to what God wants to do in their church and in their target area (Severna Park and Arnold, MD). I was so impressed with their honesty and openness with one another and with me. I wish I could have gone to their crab feast (they invited me), but I had other commitments. Next time, guys!

I got to speak at my home church (Pasadena AG) on Sunday morning, which was a real privilege for me. My pastor Phil Foster is always encouraging me, and he generously gave me a chance to share some thoughts with the congregation that were hard for me to say, and no doubt hard for them to hear. I talked about ethnic prejudice in the church and how our political opinions sadly cause us to reshape our ministry philosophy, until we neglect souls who need the gospel. But God is grace! He opens our eyes to His will and His plan, and I was thrilled to see so many of my church family agree that they wanted to do more to reach the diverse ethnic population of Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

I could go on and on (and on and on—for those of you who know me well!). However, I am struggling with jet lag, and can’t seem to get past my exhaustion. Also, it’s about 90 degrees in my apartment right now. Ugh. It’s always hard to get motivated in heat like this; I practically carry a fan around with me from room to room.

Some of you gave an extra financial gift for my vacation. Merci mille fois (Thanks a thousand times)! I was able to enjoy great moments with family and friends with your help. I also appreciate those of you who read this blog, praying faithfully for my life and ministry in France. You may never know what a difference you make, but croyez-moi (believe me) you do!

In other news: Today is Bastille Day in France, their day of Independence, which means tonight I can watch fireworks from my balcony. I watched quite a few going on last night, too. Also, thanks Mom, for reminding me of that kindergarten story, which I really don’t remember, but it sure sounds like something I would say! Stay tuned, folks, for pictures as I get them edited.
Ariel Rainey