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Johnston's Great Adventure of 2007!

...I had packed for myself and for the kids, not knowing exactly what to pack for. As we headed towards the lovely and brown Needles, California, I thought to myself, “What are we heading towards?? What could be in the direction of interstate 40?? Do I know anyone who lives out this way?” As we continued on the highway, we saw the sign. Grand Canyon. I turned to Jeff and mouthed so the kids couldn’t hear, “Are we going THERE??” And Jeff finally nodded, yes!

Zack finally guessed a short time after that, so off we went, driving in 110-120 degree weather into the vast brownness of the California desert...after about 8 hours, we reached our destination. And oh my goodness! Words cannot describe the absolute majesty of the Grand Canyon. I knew it was big. But I had NO idea that it was hours and hours and hours of canyon. To think that God created this with just a whisper of His Word was mind boggling. Beautiful just doesn’t explain it. Our pictures don’t do it justice. You just have to see it:)

So even with all this majesty, I’m still having some grouchy moments (my poor husband! I’m SO sorry, honey!!) from not knowing where we were headed next, and to think that we were going to spend a week? Here? Hummm. He again reassured us that there will be PLENTY to do. He told us that we would drive to the North Rim of the canyon. When I read in a brochure that it’s a 5 hour drive to the other side, I was not a happy camper.

But first, we stopped off at this place called Jacob’s Lake. There was no lake. There was a gas station and a rest stop. A booming metropolis of Jacob’s Lake, Arizona. After getting some gas, we started driving out of the station when this van pulls up right in front of us. I looked...and saw the faces of my sister in law, Jill Vander Weide, and brother in law Brian! Jill’s mouth was wide open, as was mine...and Brian had a knowing smirk on his face, as was Jeff’s. Our kids and their kids are screaming and hugging in sheer shock and surprise. Jill and I are dumbfounded because seeing each other in the middle of nowhere in Arizona was the last thing we had on our minds (they’re from Philadelphia!). Yes, our husbands had been conspiring for weeks to have this surprise reunion for our families before our departure to Japan. We had been wanting to see them before our departure, but figured that we just could not work it out...but our wonderful husbands had pulled it off!!!!!

Now it ALL made sense to me, how Jeff HAD to keep it a secret from me. Now I understood why we drove all the way to the Grand Canyon...it was because Jeff knew that the Vander Weides would be there. Now I knew why we would be gone for a week...it wasn’t to spend at the canyon, but to spend time with our wonderful family!!!!

From there, it was a whirlwind of fun...the kids can tell you:) Family Fun Center...miniature golf...bumper boats. We went to Circus Circus in Vegas and enjoyed many circus acts, good food, and lots of playtime with cousins. We were in a couple of different hotels with swimming pools, so that was a special treat for Zack and Ellie. But they’ll tell you right off hand that spending time with Philip, Nathanael and Brianna was the highlight of the entire trip. We also got see Hoover Dam. We had the dam tour, saw the dam movie, and took lots of dam pictures.

After a tearful goodbye to the family, we drove back and we’re back to the reality of packing and leaving on August 20th!! We are very thankful, though, for the wonderful memories that we were able to make. All of us will remember this and talk about it for years to come! And yes, the surprise was ALL worth it:)

Enjoy the pictures!

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Jeff's column offers a mix of reflections on leadership and fatherhood, as well as news from Asian Access.

 

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Nozomi's column contains reflections on motherhood, Japanese culture, and ministry.

 

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