However, the big news for Susie right now is that she is, even as I type, en route to Romania. She and six other teenagers--and three adult chaperons--left Port Columbus this morning for a 10-day Justice Trip, representing First Unitarian Universalist Church here in Columbus. (This was the best expenditure of a tax refund in the 30 years I have been filing!) Just before I started typing, I received a text message from the church's Associate Minister, letting me know they've all landed safely at JFK in New York. (They will be there until late afternoon, before embarking on the longest leg of the trip, which is between New York and Helsinki. There will be much tighter connections between Helsinki and Warsaw, and Warsaw and Bucharest.)
Susie is the first of our immediate family to journey outside North America. My overseas travel was 15 minutes in Ciudad Juarez in 1987, where my sole activity was buying a bottle of tequila for $1.15. Steph lived in upstate New York until she was nine or 10, which meant frequent trips in and out of Canada. However, Susie journeyed to Costa Rica (for the "Winterim" trip at The Graham School), and now will be headed across the Atlantic Ocean to Romania. (Although it is known as "the Eastern Europe of Eastern Europe," Romania plays a prominent role in Unitarian history, and is as important as Jerusalem or Rome. The only Unitarian monarch, John Sigismund Zápolya, ruled Hungary in the mid-16th century (as John II).) A Reader's Digest version of the Unitarian history of the region can be found here.
Our Associate Minister picked us up at 7:45 for the ride out to Port Columbus. (The flight was supposed to leave at 8:30 a.m., but did not leave until after 10. He called me, and the parents of all the other youth, around 2:15 a.m. to let us know.) Before everyone headed to the TSA metal detectors and the American Airlines boarding area, they posed for pictures. Here is the group, rarin' to go: