Monday, July 18, 2022

Returning to the Farm

I am back on the farm after TWO WHOLE WEEKS away. I don't know that I have ever been gone for that long. In fact, JB and I realized that we hadn't been away from each other for that long since Hannah was born, and I "stork-nested" in America with the three other kiddos, and he had to remain on the island of Terceira. It was a long time. We don't enjoy being a part for that long, but because I took Hannah, it gave us some opportunities as a family. He got to be WITH the boys and have "guy time", and I got to take a break from the demands of life as a homeschooling Mama of 4 kiddos. 

My days were very simple. This camp had over 300 girls, and most of them stayed on the Belhaven University Campus. However, because Abigail was THE youngest girl there, and her friend Bailee was the fourth-youngest, we decided that we would have them be "off-campus" attendees. 

However, they were still there from 8am-9p minimum six of the seven days each week. I would pick them up LATE and drop them off EARLY. We'd wake them up, feed them breakfast, get their ballet buns securely in place, and send them on their way. 

Jessica and I stayed in an AirB&B about five minutes away from the college. Our days were filled with the game Wingspan (I got Jessica addicted), walking Arabelle, napping, and relaxing. Jessica also had to do a little work for her job, and I watched a large amount of Wimbledon during week one. 

Jackson can be a bit concerning crime-wise, and it can change block to block. On one block, there are million dollar homes. And on another block, there are stray dogs and dilapidated houses. I decided to bring Raven with because I wasn't sure how safe the actual area was that we rented our place, and we were just females traveling alone. She was a ROCK STAR and so fun to have on the trip. I've decided that she could totally be an apartment dog in New York City. She does not require a farm like Arabelle does. And Ritter? He's just too BIG for a little apartment. 

All in all, I was impressed by the employees and people I met in Jackson. While it did feel a little unsafe in spots, generally, I felt very comfortable there. The heat, however, was oppressive. I couldn't help but think about cotton slaves who would have been forced to work every single day in those temperatures and then returned to homes without any air conditioning. It's actually unimaginable, and their strength really resonated with me on the trip. (I grew up in South Florida, and it was hot there. But this southern heat felt even worse. I think it was the absence of a breeze?)

I truly fell unable to adequately write about this camp and the experience it was for me, for Abigail, for Bailee, for Bailee's mom Jessica, and for Ana Kotynski who stayed in the dorms. We were SO affected by this place. We were CHANGED by this place. It was simply one of the most HOLY things I've ever done, and I know it was the most holy thing my young daughter has ever done. She came to Mississippi, truly, a Christian because her parents were. But while there, she FOUND the Lord. She came to understand him for herself, and she made a decision to follow Him because she wanted to. The worship. The ballet. The Lord. Unbelievable. Truly. 

There is no question that Abigail wants to go back. Ana was as good of a dancer as everyone has told her she was. She was placed in Level 9 (11 is the highest before the PPL or pre-professional) with only three years of dance experience. She is just that talented. Abigail was in the lowest level (4) with Bailee. We knew this would be the case strictly based on her age. Truly the level didn't matter for the experience, but Ana getting 9 was a huge confidence boost. 

I encourage anyone whose daughter has ANY love of dance to look into Ballet Magnificat! Spend some time on their website and look into what they do. They have managed to combine dancing with true purpose. And it was simply ... awe-inspiring.

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