Saturday, September 15, 2012

To Azusa and Back

Here's my long-awaited post about my family's trip to Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California, to drop my sister Julie off at her first year of college. You've already seen a couple photos in this post, but here's the full story. I'm going to do this by posting pictures and putting the photo's description under the photo.

This is ALL of Julie's stuff in the car. We couldn't believe it. I was like, "What in the world did I take to college?" Because I assure you, the car was much more full five years ago. The best answer we could come up with was that it snows in Spokane and not in L.A., therefore I had to pack more clothes.
Outside the house in Portland, ready to pick up Dad and hit the road!
The first day (Wednesday) we drove to Redding and stayed overnight. On Thursday, we powered through CA to Azusa. We had a lunch at a rest stop somewhere (can't remember where!) and had these lettuce wraps with chicken salad in them. This was Julie's last-minute idea when we were packing the cooler on Wednesday and it was delicious! 
Finally!! A sign for Azusa!!
That's right, we had In-N-Out Burger for dinner on Thursday night! We ended up getting it again at an Azusa Family/Student Carnival on Saturday night. I had In-N-Out burger for the first time when I was 16, but I honestly don't remember anything about the food. I only remember wanting a t-shirt. (No surprise if you knew me at that time.) So I was eager actually to taste the food, and it was delicious!! The burger was flavorful and not greasy, the fries were salty and crispy, and the vanilla milkshake was sweet and cold. A treat!

After dinner, we toured the campus with Julie as our guide. The signs appeared in the lawn outside Julie's dorm on Friday morning to welcome new students. Fun, huh? Here's Julie and Mom peeking in the window of Julie's dorm room.

After a less-than-satisfactory hotel experience on Thursday night, we were eager to spend the whole day at Azusa. As we drove in, we were greeted by this welcoming committee. It was so fun! As RAs rushed over to help us unload the car, several people assumed that I was the college student. I couldn't tell if this was a compliment or not. :) It didn't take us long to unload the car and bring it all into Julie's room. Julie is in an all-girls dorm with two other roommates. We had a chance to meet and spend a little time with both roommates and their families. It was fun!

We ate breakfast on Friday morning at a little Mexican bakery by our hotel. Here's my breakfast with the beginnings of a Target list. As usual, we had to make a pilgrimage to Target for odds and ends and to Costco for a mini fridge. This is a vitally important part of a parent's job. (My parents still take me to Costco when they're here in Spokane.)

The rest of Friday was spent organizing Julie's room, attending an outside fair in the campus center, meeting roommates and RAs, enjoying a dinner picnic with a band, and listening to several speakers in the big event center. On Saturday, the students and families split up and went to separate workshops. My parents and I enjoyed the workshop we attended, which talked mostly about the Azusa's strengths-based approach to learning. In the afternoon, Mom and Julie organized Julie's room, so Dad and I went to Trader Joe's!! We were 10 or so miles from Monrovia at this Trader Joe's, which is the headquarters for Trader Joe's. How cool is that?!
We bought Julie this beautiful bouquet of flowers at Trader Joe's and got her some snacks (chips and guacamole). We had a lot of down time on Friday and Saturday in which we got to spend time together as a family. It was wonderful to meet fellow students, get to know the campus a little, and enjoy the unique excitement of the freshman experience.

The top photo was taken at the Carnival on Saturday night. We ate with several of Julie's friends that she met on her Mexico mission trip with Azusa this summer. The picture with Mom and me is the main plaza of Azusa's West Campus (Julie lives on the East Campus...about a 10 minute walk away). It's a beautiful campus with lots of palm trees and big flowers. On the walk to and from the east and west campuses, we noticed grapefruit trees! How crazy is that?! We ended up going to an Azusa men's soccer game after the carnival; that was fun!

After a lovely worship service on Sunday morning, the president and campus pastor gave every family a piece of chalk and told us to find a place on either campus where we could leave a little drawing to signify the start of our daughter/sister's college career. Julie chose a spot near the academic building where many of her social work classes will be held. I drew this picture and then we prayed for Julie. I tried to get a picture with all four of us, but I obviously had some trouble. :)
Throughout the weekend, I was encouraged by how Christ-centered Azusa is. Dad and I spent an hour on Sunday morning praying with other parents and the Chapel staff for this new freshman class. For peace. For calling. For love of God and neighbor.

It was hard to leave Julie at the end, but we all felt encouraged that we are entrusting her to a good institution and a great God. I pray for Julie every day and trust that college will be as wonderful for her as it was for me.
Mom, Dad, and I left Azusa at 1:15 PM on Sunday afternoon and made it home at 4:45 AM on Monday morning. The whole drive was fine for me except for the last two-ish hours. I was so tired I literally could hardly keep my eyes open. My mom was the real hero--she drove most of the night. We did listen to All Creatures Great and Small on the way back, which was a delight, but boy were we glad to fall into bed on Monday morning. My poor dad had to go to work at 7 AM while my mom and I were sound asleep. We were all dragging Monday evening, but I am happy to report that we are fully recovered and the time spent with Julie was worth every long minute of driving. :)
P.S. This (below) might have been a little bit of what we looked like on the drive back. Get us out of here! Hehe.


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