Coming back to Apia was a strange but exciting thing. This meant that training was almost over but also that we had to say goodbye to our host families. It meant air conditioning and soft beds, but it also meant that swearing in was soon and our two years of service would begin. It meant spending a week with all the other volunteers, but also that we would be moving into our new homes soon. It was like this weird twilight week of celebrating endings, while also preparing for new beginnings. To say the least that week was a roller coaster. On Saturday morning we left our training villages after very teary goodbyes and loaded down with even more gifts. Then in was off in the van to the office and the Pacifica hotel. It was such an odd mix of emotions sad to say good-bye, guilt for all the presents, and incredible relief and excitement that training was finally over. Then we arrived at the hotel and piled all of our bags into our rooms. Lots of my peers headed right into town to do errands but I took one look at the bags piled on my bed and decided I needed to take stock and come up with a strategy. On my bed was my suit case that I lived out of for training, bags of cloths that were gifts from my family (some that definitely needed to be donated… why one needs a knitted sweater set in Samoa, I don’t know), the big bag that I had stored in the hotel and hadn’t really looked in since I left Houston, and last but not least three, let me repeat, three boxes I got in the mail. It was over whelming and exciting all at once. I really had no clue what I had and didn’t. So the excavation began. I first unpacked everything, including my stored bag and my packages. My first major discoveries were tucked at the bottom of my December bag wrapped in shiny Christmas paper and tempting me to open them. My amazing mother, who has had to prepare many a Christmas over seas, had left me presents hidden under all the extra knickers and sunscreen. Don’t worry Mama I still waiting for Christmas to open them. The next major discovery was of course my packages. Now, these I couldn’t handle the temptation, they wanted opening….now. I was incredibly touched but al the love put into these packages. There were new undies, my favorite sweets, little Christmas treats, peanut butter, MARMITE!, and tons of fun stuff that I know I can pull out on one of my hard days and they will make me feel a million times better. My sister even sent me a hard drive full of fun entertainment! So thank you so much Megan Leheny, Heather and Mama for making sure I have a real Christmas. I honestly felt like the absolute luckiest girl in the world. With my treasures horded away and my bags repacked, I was ready for to relax, have a good time, and enjoy my couple days in Apia before swearing in.