Has it been 9 years? Really?

I tweeted about this idea earlier this week, but I've had an opportunity over the past few months to dig into my old scrapbooks, and I'm reminded that some of these pictures have some great stories behind them.  A few of these pictures are old, but some are recent.  I am going to spend some time blogging these stories so I don't forget them.  I hope you enjoy this series. 

Nine years ago in September, my sister called me from Guatemala.  She had spent the year tying up loose ends with her life in the US - leaving her job, selling her home, putting some of her stuff in storage - to go work in an orphanage.  She had traveled there several times with her church for missions work, and one day she announced to her family that she felt called to work with these kids.  Her job would be working in a dorm with pre-teen girls.  She spent most of the summer fundraising for living expenses for her first year away from home.  I threw her a going away party with her family and friends, and went to the airport to say goodbye.  She left right after 9/11, so we all said goodbye near the McDonalds by the security gate.  I vowed to get a passport so I could visit.

About two weeks later, one Sunday afternoon when I was just hanging around the apartment, she called me from Guatemala.  I knew these calls would be rare so I was surprised to get one so soon.  "Jennie," she said, "I'm engaged."  I remember my response was, "To WHO?"  Seriously, I had spent months working with her to get everything taken care of so she could move, and not once had she mentioned a boyfriend.  For the life of me I could not figure out what guy in her life could have possibly proposed.

But apparently, she had met a guy on some of those missions trips.  His name was Steve, and he had moved to Guatemala from Ohio, and was taking care of a dorm full of toddler boys.  They had become close friends over the summer - apparently they talked a lot as she was preparing to move - and he had proposed shortly after she moved down there.  Hmm.

The next thing she said was that the wedding was going to be in 2 months, at the beginning of November, and they would not be able to handle planning from so far away, and since I was in town, would I please take care of arranging everything?  

I'll blog more about this in future entries, but at the age of 30, this WAS my wheelhouse.  Not weddings, mind you, I'd never done that before - but throwing together a shindig for a couple hundred people - including my sister and a future brother-in-law that I don't know - I'm all over it.  Sure.  No pressure, I've got this.

I'm pretty sure I was making lists about 5 minutes after the call, but wow.  It was a whirlwind of spending my parents' money and a billion phone calls.  Thank god I had an understanding co-worker and boss who let me work on this.  

This picture was taken at the rehearsal dinner.  I called the future-brother-in-law's mom, who lived in Ohio and also needed on-the-ground assistance with party planning (of course), and we ended up at the local Copeland's in a banquet room.  Taking the whole French Quarter-New Orleans-Mardi Gras theme to the logical conclusion, I put masks and beads on the tables, and I had gold, green and purple balloons everywhere.  Guests were encouraged to have a great time.  There was a toast, and I think I remember a few of the hurricanes.  It was an amazing weekend, one that I felt proud to pull off in such a short time.   To commemorate my time spent planning their special day, my sister gave me a clock, which I still have on my mantel today.

Happy anniversary to both of you this weekend.  As you celebrate in New Orleans this weekend, here's to many, many more years together.  

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