Monday, July 09, 2018

Welcome Home Claire

On Saturday morning, Mr. Nielson and I woke up at 5:00 to rain.
I got dressed, fluffed up the pillows on the couch,
 wiped the counter down one more time
and made sure the donuts we had bought the night before were
situated perfectly on the kitchen table next to flowers and cards.

 Then Mr. Nielson and I drove in the dark to the 
 Raleigh-Durham airport to pick up Claire.
This day was something I was anticipating since the second she left my sight
Claire had been in Samoa with a group of about 25 other kids 
ages ranging from 17-19 (she was the baby at 16).
They were on a humanitarian trip where they built homes for Samoan families;
mixing cement by hand, cutting down trees, digging holes, and moving rocks.
Part of the fantastic experience of HEFY was they had no contact from
home, so I treasured each day when the group leader would Instagram a few
pictures of the group working at the work site or playing.
My children are homebodies, especially Claire, so this opportunity
It was REALLY a stretch.  
Earlier in the summer, we started talking about his being a possibility
 for her, and she completely closed up.  So I asked her to pray 
about it, and I wanted her to know that the decision was totally hers. 
She walked into the kitchen the next day and said to me:
"I want to do it."
So we began preparations- and that was really fun.
Tonight we watched a little slide show she put together
of her trip and listened to her stories.
We asked thousands of questions and devoured the photos.
I've noticed that she has been pretty reserved and
more quiet than I expected.
Maybe she had experiences that perhaps she isn't ready to talk about-
and that is OK.  We are here for her
 whenever she is ready.
And maybe she is just really exhausted.
I have really enjoyed watching Jane
 listen to her older sister of 15 months
express her gratitude for her home and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jane is planning on going next year (Thailand!).
This was a beautiful and eye-opening time
for Claire, full of experiences she will build on for the rest of her life.
I am so grateful to HEFY for creating this amazing program that
stretches kids and helps them look outside themselves.
It's not just for members of 
it's for any youth who is interested.
Later that evening, we went on a family walk around
our neighborhood and the boys wore their over-sized Samoa t-shirts,
and Lottie wore her shell necklace.
By this time, Claire was going on 23 hours of being awake.

It's lovely to have all the Little Nies back under one roof!
We'll all sleep well tonight!

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