The alarm sounded early on August sixteenth. The journey from my home to Lawrenceville, Georgia would take four hours. Between packing and anticipation sleep was lost. I slept on the way while my parents drove. They made stops at several gas stations for coffee or to stretch their legs. Only having paper print outs to navigate by, my parents got lost. After a call and patient guidance we made it to our final destination.
When I entered the church I took in every site, sound, smell, feeling. I let my senses and emotions absorb everything. Is this what accomplishing a dream of four years feels like, I thought. Was I still in the backseat of the Mazda or even nestled between mattress and blanket? I made my way to the room where Abante colleagues and their families were meeting for the first time. I glanced around the room excited and embarrassed.I was still in my sleep clothes. I quickly changed from my pajamas to my uniform, a emerald dress embroidered with Abante International. The colleagues and families introduced themselves and made small talk. I sat quietly observing each personality. These were the men and women I would spend nine months with. They would be my brothers and sisters.
As the service started all Abante colleagues and families moved to the designated seating area. The service was graced with the presence of the Holy Spirit. After service the colleagues and our families were prayed over. All the families of Abante International were ushered into the student ministry building. There we ate and were able to meet our host families. These men and women’s homes would be our homes until we left for Puerto Rico. I would be sharing my host family with another colleague, Catherine Stewart. Catherine’s family welcomed me as another daughter. Catherine and I’s host mother was out of town and would be returning later in the day. Our families spoke to our host father, Ralph. They drove us to his home to drop off our luggage, but we would spend the day with the Pastor of Lawrenceville Church of God. The long drive took a toll on us both; we fell asleep at Pastor Kevin’s home. Later that day we met our host mother, Ernistine.
That night Catherine and I got the chance to talk to each other. I realized how much we had in common. God had put us in the same host home for a reason. I went to bed that night and could only be excited for what all God was going to do. This was the day I had been waiting for since the eighth grade at church camp. I wanted to hang onto this moment for as long as I could, but the black fog of sleep crept in. The first day of Abante International had ended just like that.