We would get lunch occasionally at a pub in Egham during the week while I lived there and then any Sunday where I wasn't off galavanting around England and Europe, I would got to her families church and your parents quickly took me under their wing and checked in with me about how I was doing. He mom had a knack for coming up to me and telling me something she had on her heart or had been praying about in regards to me and it would knock the wind out of me it was so spot on to what God was stirring in my heart or something I had been struggling through or praying about. God ministered to me so much through them and I was so incredibly grateful for their presence in my life while I was away from my family and home.
Carla has been able to come out to visit me a couple times since I went back home and it is always such a renewing time for my heart to be with her. But this trip, was my first time being back to visit her in 6 years and I was so excited to get to spend uninterrupted time with her AND her family again!
The night before when Carla was picked up in Reading by her parents, I was able to tell them our happy news that I was pregnant and so all weekend you would have thought I was an invalid, they didn't let me lift a finger and did everything for me! I didn't fight it, but instead allowed them to pamper and take care of Aaron and I so beautifully. I cannot say enough how incredibly blessed and humble I felt to be loved and protected and cared for by them. I seriously get choked up thinking about it because it was like all the remaining weight of jet lag and exhaustion was able to slip away as I relaxed and just soaked in the relationships and time with them. Aaron and I still think back to this weekend and marvel at how much we needed that weekend!
When Aaron and I were planning our trip out to England, we mentioned to Carla how we wanted to try to get a day at the beach, and she immediately told us that her family and her would love to plan a day that like that for us and so we decided July 4th would be the perfect day to do it! Shara's fiance, Zach had just moved to England from L.A., so we thought he might need some solidarity in celebrating our nation's holiday! So we were a party of 5 South Africans and 4 Americans celebrating The US Independence in England!!
Our day started by being picked up in Reading by Carla and her mom Deborah. We hit the road toward the beach and met up with the rest of the party at a rest stop along the way! Aaron and I got to meet Zach and I got to see Shara again in 6 years! It was so sweet catching up with her. We quickly set the baseline that Carla had shared a ton with me already about her and Zach's story of dating and falling in love, so we were able to dive in about relationships and marriage right off the bat! I loved getting to spend time with them. I also got to meet Carla's new sister Candi Grace, who had been adopted just a couple years before! At 7 she was SUCH a delight and loved the sweet gifts we brought for her from the Disney Store! She also was fascinated by the fact that I had a baby in my tummy, even though my tummy was still pretty flat. She would ask about the baby and tell me she couldn't wait to meet the baby!
It took us a bit to finally make it to the beach as everyone in England seemed to have the same idea we did, especially in light of the heat wave. I slept a TON in the car on the way down there and Deborah, Carla and Aaron got to chat and get to know each other more. Seriously, the nap in the car was probably the greatest gift anyone could have given me!
We made it to Bournemouth and set out to find a spot on the crowded beach!
It couldn't have been a more perfect day to be near the ocean! It was warm in the sun, but there was a cool breeze blowing around us. The water was ICE, but we didn't have plans to swim anyways, and mainly just laid on the beach soaking up the sun and relaxing and eating...
... theme of our time with the Brink family - these people know how to feed you!! They picked up a feast of sandwiches, salads, snacks, and treats to munch on!! At the rest stop we stopped at, we picked up groceries and they were so sweet to make sure to get things we liked and that I was able to and wanted to eat in my condition. So I was happy to grab any food in sight!
This was probably my favorite day of the trip! Aaron and I were just along for the ride and was able to let everyone else to the planning! Aaron and I quickly decided that now that we had done a ton of big must see touristy stuff in England, when we came back some day we just wanted to sit back and let the Brink family show us around the countryside and relax! They know how to host you!
|Cabanas and beach gear storage along the beach walk!|
|Candi and I! She is showing off her Princess shirt we gave her!|
|Carla and Candi!|
|Stylin' on the beach!|
|Aaron and Carla's dad, Stuart!|
|Zach and Candi Grace|
|These faces are not forced! This is a picture of 2 very refreshed and relaxed Americans!|
We headed back up to Reading and they dropped us at our hotel just as we had hit out wall for the day and were ready to sleep!
This, again, was seriously one of my very favorite days, if not my VERY favorite day of the trip!! Not expectation or timetable and we just got to be loved and pampered and didn't have to lift a finger (seriously, they wouldn't let me).
Thank you Brink Family for an amazing day at the beach!!