A few days ago I sat outside on the terrace one bright, sunny morning, waiting with happy anticipation for someone to arrive.
No, it wasn't one of my own children. But it WAS one of my precious "adopted" nieces!
I've known Hayley Ellenwood since she was just three years old when her family moved to the Czech Republic to begin ministry with Josiah Venture. Now almost 22, she lives in the States so I don't get to see her very often. That's why it was extra special that her parents had her fly into Croatia for her Christmas break so she could come over to spend a few days on Hvar before they headed home to Czech.
The three of us girls spent a lovely day together yesterday, enjoying all the special places that we've come to love from years of vacationing here.
Not only did we enjoy a beautiful walk on a sunny afternoon in Hvar town, but we made a stop at the campground where we spent many vacations together.
The beach was a little less crowded than when we used to come here in the summers!
It had been four years since Hayley had been back here, so it was super meaningful to be with her in a place where there are so many happy memories. I can remember her, Hannah (her sister) and Claire taking lots of fun photos right there on that beach, not to mention diving off those rocks with all of our kids while we snapped endless photos of them having the times of their lives!
We made it to the beach just as the sun was beginning to set, which made for beautiful golden hour pictures of her and her mom (and their dog!).
We reminisced as we walked through the empty campground, remembering every spot we'd pitched our tents in and the funny memories associated with each one. Those were precious times where bonds of friendship deepened and we became "family" with each other.
While it was sad to be missing all the others (there were three families who vacationed together nine years in a row, thirteen people in all), we loved remembering the goodness of the Lord that we tasted in those years.
So thankful Hayley could come back to reconnect with those precious memories.