I am officially down to 24 days left in the Azores. On September 18th 2009 I jet off to the US for about a month of vacation and gathering my bearings before heading back across the Atlantic to Italy. I'm a little apprehensive about moving to Italy because I know the mission of the base there is a little more involved than "little Lajes". The stress that I came across here was from control freaks who didn't know when to take their hands off the reigns.
On the other hand I'm very excited about moving to Italy for a new adventure and lots and lots of bicycle riding. I already have a bicycle company picked out that I want to look at their models up close. Their stuff on the Internet is amazing. Of course there's a little price tag, but that's fine with me.
I remember arriving in the Azores in June 2008 wondering why I came here when I had everything I ever wanted in California. I still wonder why some days, but then there are days like yesterday that allowed me to be a kid again. Yesterday was possibly the last Sunday that I will be able to hear Pastor Art Nilsen preach here in the Azores. Pastor Art is a retired USAF member who stayed here on the island as the pastor of the Azorean Baptist Church. He and his family have adopted me and included me in many of their outings. Their kids have connected on many levels and in a way they are my little brothers and sisters. This Wednesday Pastor Art and his family will be heading to the US for a few weeks. They are not sure when they will be back, but they are hoping that they will see me before I jet off in 24 days. It was special to be able to have not just one family but almost every family in the church take me in as a member of their family. I was included in birthday parties, just parties in general, and all kinds of laughs. I will really miss the church family here on the island. It is like a huge light in such a dark island full of lost people.
If I did not have the Azorean Baptist Church I would have been a very unhappy man for my 15 months here in the Azores. I thank God that He gave me the desire to branch out and find real, meaningful worship, instead of settling for the chapel on base. It is because of the Azorean Baptist Church that I even have a desire to possibly come back to the Azores in a few years and have another go at an assignment. Maybe by then there will be people in position to make this a very smooth running place instead of the herky jerky state we were in most of the time.
In my last 24 days here I am going to be wrapping things up. In 2 weeks my house gets packed up and I hand the keys over to the landlord. Then I go and live on the base for a week and finish finalizing all the out-processing stuff. It will be a huge weight lifted from my shoulders when I am finally off the ground. It won't be without a tear or 2.