When in need of a spring pick-me-up trip, most people turn to Iowa.
What, you hadn't thought of that?
Funny, I just assumed you had.
Ok, Iowa is not exactly the world's top vacation destination. If it weren't for my dear friend Nicole, we wouldn't have ventured there. She and her husband are living in Grinell, Iowa, for a few months as they train to move overseas in May. I don't think I can post the country where they are moving, but let's just say it is even less of a vacay destination than Iowa.
We wanted to see them before they left, so Iowa called our names and we answered.
My friendship with Nicole began junior year of college. We had mutual friends before that, but we had the wrong impressions of each other. I thought she liked boys too much and was a little too crazy; she thought I was awkwardly quiet and a little too serious. (Did I get that right, Nic?) First week of junior year that all changed when I helped her move her whole car-load of stuff into our second floor dorm hall. I did it because I was her RA and that's what RAs do, but she took it as a genuine gesture, and I am so glad she did, because that year we became fast friends!
After a few months, this is what her craziness did to my dormant crazy side:
Has to be my favorite picture of us. Just one of the many random times we dressed up during college.
Nicole and I discovered our mutual love for coffee that year too. This was a big deal to me, because I knew few people who loved the caffeinated stuff as deeply as I did. I would tiptoe into her room early in the morning to borrow her monstrous 12-cup machine when my 4-cup mini wasn't cutting it. She would tiptoe into my room the next morning after I forgot to return it and steal it back.
We became the queens of spontaneous outings, beginning with Road Trip Wednesdays and Kung Fun Breakfast Club, and culminating in our crowning glory, the Easter trip to Florida. We convinced three guys to take a 15 hour road trip with us to Nicole's aunt's house in Destin, and it was the most fun I ever had on a college trip.
A bit of the history for you. Back to Iowa. We forgot our camera, so many of the small beauties of Grinnell will here remain undocumented. The pictures I do have I sweet-talked Nicole into sending me. We will say we were pleasantly surprised by Iowa in many ways. Grinnell and Des Moines, the closest city, both have a Colorado-outdoorsy feel, and of course, A and I are big fans of that.
Aaron got to spend one day helping Jonathan with a soybean project. Jonathan is learning the ways of soybeans as that will be their job in the country they're moving too. Aaron wanted to join him--he finds physical labor a fun deviation from his regular job which is heavy on office duties and people time. (The project was fun, but did not enamor Aaron to soybeans more; I tried making tofu upon our return and it was a total bust.)
Nicole and I mainly just talked. Which is what we do best. She makes me laugh a tremendous amount; in return, she laughs at a lot of the things I say. Everyone needs a friend like that. Nicole is one of the most joyful, bubbly people I know. She sees life as an adventure, and she will buckle you in for the ride regardless of your initial excitement. Everyone needs a friend like that.
We also ate a lot. I am thinking back through my memories, and most of them include food in some form.
A coffee date. Who better to have it with than my coffee partner in cream? I mean, crime?
Lunch at a local pizza place.
Nicole and Jonathan with their teammate, Joe.
We got to meet their team and pray and fellowship with them. What a sweet night! So good to be reminded of the Kingdom of God and how God's people are carrying that out all over the world. We were stretched as we sat with people who are stretching hard themselves toward Christ.
Iowa, thank you for taking good care of my dear friend. Nicole, I love you like I love sim-sim balls, and that is more than you think! :) You are such a joy and encouragement to me! Thanks for blazing the trail in marriage and now in overseas work; I love watching you forge ahead.