Last Good-byes

Today is our last day here. We ate breakfast and packed everything up. We drove from my grandma’s house to my aunt’s, where we are spending the night. Tomorrow morning we leave for the airport. There are so many things we’ve done on this trip that I haven’t written about. We stayed with my dad’s best friend and his family out on a farm. The land is right near where my dad grew up. He had fun pointing to all of the houses we went by and telling us who used to live in them. Unfortunately, we only spent one night and the morning there. It was really fun to see them, though. 

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They had 5 kittens. I spent 90 percent of the time with them. 

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They also have cows. So cute. 

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This is my dad and his best friend Thomas. They have matching shirts that Thomas gave my dad in 1998. Coincidentally, they both wore it on the same day… 

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In the morning we drove to the highest mountain in the area and climbed a tower to look at the view. From the top we could see for miles. We even caught a glimpse of Zurich. 

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This is my little mom on the ground. She’s afraid of heights. 

We hadn’t seen them in seven years! It was just like old times. 

We also squeezed in a trip to see my dad’s friend Yvan, and his son Matthieu. They invited us over for cheese fondue. It was delicious. 

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He made it from scratch. Im not sure what all he put in it, but it was the best I’ve ever eaten. 

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My parents. (And my hasty dad). 

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We ate like kings. 

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This is Yvan. He’s spent a lot of time in Morocco, so he has a lot of artifacts from there. One of the traditions he’s adopted is Moroccan mint tea. 

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He he told us he pours it really high to mix the tea and to give it bubbles on top. 

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The tea was really good. Yvan said there’s more sugar in the pot than in a coke, (which is roughly 16 teaspoons). No wonder it’s amazing. There’s also black tea and fresh mint leaves in it. 

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After dinner we played Jungle Speed. It’s a card game based on visual shapes. It was really challenging for my mom and sister, but it was fun. We left at almost midnight. It was fun to catch up with them again. 

We have to be at the airport tomorrow morning at 7:30. We’re going to eat a light dinner soon and then go to sleep early. It’s been a great vacation here. I’ve learned so much about culture, the language, and about life in general. I was really fortunate to be able to spend so much time in these beautiful countries. It was so nice to see people that I haven’t seen for at least 6 years. It’s so green here and everything is beautiful. I’ll miss it, but I’m glad to go home to my family and friends. Thank you Switzerland and France. It’s been amazing. 

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Mountains

The next day we went to the mountains to look at some Saint Bernards. We only saw them through a gate, so we walked around and then left to a nearby lake. The view was beautiful and the weather was nice. We ate cookies and apricots by the lake. 

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We’ve been having a busy week trying to squeeze in visits to everyone before we leave. Today is our last full day here. I’ll post a catch-up entry tonight with some random photos. Hope everyone has a great day! 

Catching Up

Hello! Sorry I haven’t been here for a while. Wifi has been really limited and we’ve been all over the place. I’m all mixed up only days, so I’ll fill you in on my past few days. 

Sunday we attended a Pfenninger family reunion. We saw people I haven’t seen since I was 8. We have a complicated family (I’ll spare you the details), but it’s interesting to see how similar everyone looks. Certain features of many people really look like my grandpa. We ate delicious food and talked. There weren’t very many people my age there, but it was fun to try and communicate in English with them. Everyone speaks Swiss German, one of the native languages of Switzerland. Most of them knew a little English, though, so it was alright. 

Without further adieu, here are some photos. 

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Carrot “cappuccino.” A savory carrot soup my aunt makes. It’s to die for. 

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We ate in the yard until it started to rain. Them we moved indoors. 

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The most amazing cake my aunt Lilian made. Almond, raspberry, meringue. 

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We took pictures on the staircase. 

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Just a part of the Pfenninger clan. It was really fun to see everyone again! It makes me want to speak Swiss German and visit more often. 

Paris

The past few days I have been with my family in Paris. We have seen a lot of amazing buildings and places. I might not be able to remember the names of all of them, but I do have some pictures to show. 

We took the TGV to get here. It took about 3 hours from Rolle, Switzerland. We reached speeds up to 180 miles per hour. Once we arrived in Paris, we took two metro rides and arrived at the apartment we were to stay at. 

I don’t remember everything we did, so I’ll just post some photos and give a little info on each one. 

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Notre Dame church. Overwhelmingly beautiful. 

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The triumphal arch  

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A park outside of the Louvre 

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Rachel and the park. 

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Sacre Coeur

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The coolest water fountains 

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Book sellers by the Seine river 

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Paninis all day every day 

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The most beautiful doors 

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Little alleyways 

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The Eiffel Tower

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We even saw the last part of the Tour de France! 

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At the Musée D’Orsay 

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It was was a fun trip! I’ll write more later. Going to take the train back now! 

Vacation

Hello. To start off, I have a correction to make in the last post. I thought the entry uploaded successfully on Thursday the 24th. When I checked today, it hadn’t. So if you read that entry, keep in mind that it was written two days ago, and just uploaded now, so some of the times might be incorrect.

This post is going to be mostly pictures, as it is 11:30 pm and we have to be on a train at 7 am. Yesterday we hung out at my aunt’s house. We went for a walk by the lake and went swimming in her above-ground pool. In the evening we drove to my grandma’s house and spent the night there. We went to the church my dad grew up in and Rachel and I sang two songs for special music, rather last minute. After church we had lunch and then rested for a while. After the rain cleared up, we walked down from Vevey, the small town where my grandma lives, to Montreux. We walked along the lakefront for a while. It was a little bittersweet because only a couple of weeks ago all of us students were walking there together. The memories flashed back.

We ate dinner with my grandma and then drove here to my tante’s. We are off to Paris for a few days. I don’t know when we’ll have wifi there, but I will definitely put up pictures when we get back.

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These photos were from Friday in Perroy, the little town by lake Geneva.

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I’m falling more and more in love with Lake Geneva. It can look so different depending on where you are. I’m going to sleep now, but I’ll post about Paris soon. Bon nuit!

Saying Goodbye

Today was our last day at Collonges. It was bittersweet. 

These past few days we have been bonding so much. Monday night we played laser tag for three hours straight. Tuesday we went to Geneva and shopped, and then had worship that night. We ate with our cousins David and Sarah and had a lovely home-cooked meal of vegan macaroni and cheese! It was such a treat. 

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This was taken post laser tag.

Last night the staff threw a party for us. We had a feast and then played some games. We were divided into four teams by the suit of the cards we chose. I was on the hearts team. We had to choreograph a dance for a mash up of songs. I am such a terrible dancer, but we were laughing the whole time. We had so much fun. Next came karaoke. Then, we all let loose and had a dance party in the cafeteria. After we sweated it out, we walked back to the dorms in the rain. It was really refreshing. Quite a few of us stayed up and watched White Chicks and talked. I happened to have stayed up until 3:30, and am consequently exhausted right now.

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Today we played games instead of having class. My teacher is so fun. We took a class selfie, but it was on her phone, and I haven’t received it from her. As a class, we bought her a scarf as a goodbye present. I think she liked it.

We received certificates for the level of French we completed. A ceremony was held. As soon as it was finished, several of us hopped into a van and escorted Njord to the airport.

The Geneva airport is about a half hour away from the school. We blasted our theme songs one last time. Everyone was singing, but it wasn’t the same, knowing our time had come to a close. It was very bittersweet. 

We stayed with him until we couldn’t anymore. I didn’t think it would be this hard to leave a group of people I’ve only known for 6 weeks, but it was hard. Living with people and spending 24/7 with them really makes you bond. Tears were shed as we said our goodbyes.

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Max and Njord breaking hearts. I did a good job of keeping cool but when I saw these guy hugging goodbye, I got so sad.

I’ve learned so much at Collonges. I’ve learned that sometimes it takes going out of your comfort zone to really experience life. At first I had the wrong attitude. About everything. But after I was pushed a little, I learned to soak up every experience. I went on every trip and to every function. I met people from different countries and tried to learn as much as I could about their cultures. Because of this, I made lasting friendships with people who I never would have met if I hadn’t come to Collonges. 

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These are just some of the amazing people I met while here. I’m so blessed to have known them, and hope to stay in contact with them for years to come. I’m so grateful for my time in Collonges, and to everyone who made it so special. I will forever be changed because of    this summer. 

Canyoning

Bonjour! Yesterday we went canyoning. I didn’t know what it was until we were in the act of it. I heard that we were going to slide down rock slides and jump into pools, but it was nothing like I imagined. 

We suited up in the thickest wetsuits I’ve ever seen in my life. They were almost an inch thick. We wore harnesses with carabiners to clip in to the ropes on the steep parts of the path. And of course, we sported some cute helmets. 

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See that cool thing protruding from my rear? We wore what looked like diapers to protect the wetsuits from the rocks. 

We were in the first group that went out. After hiking for about five minutes, we descended into a river. Without any warning, we slid down a rock slide that dumped us out into a pool below. The current was rushing quite steadily, but it wasn’t dangerous. 

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We slid down into the pool from the slide on the right. I thought we would feel the rocks, but our diapers and wetsuits were so thick we practically floated down. 

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When our time was up, we returned to the cars and changed. I walked back and took some pictures of the second group. This was one of the girls jumping in. The cliff she’s jumping off is around 7 meters high. 

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We took running leaps off of this waterfall. The person in red is standing on the ledge, for a size reference. We jumped into the deep pool in the bottom. It was surprisingly easy to surface and swim. 

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The scenery was something out of a postcard. I tried taking a vertical panorama and this is how it turned out. 

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I stood on a bridge and took this.

We slid down the first slide forward, backward, and with a buddy. (One seated forward, one backward, with our legs entwined). Then there was a second smaller slide. The third area we went to was the waterfall. We slid down it, then jumped from the surrounding embankments into the pool. The highest jump was 8 meters tall (about 26 feet). We did it as many times as possible. I find that the only way to make yourself jump is to count to three and go. If you think about it too much, you’ll chicken out. 

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We rinsed off in the freezing water afterwards. From left to right: Molly, Maddi, Alyssa, Rachel, and Rachel.

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When we were all dry, we ate picnic lunches. We made our own sandwiches and ate watermelon and pudding. 

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You can’t imagine how much we love sandwiches after the caf food.

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Eating pictures are always a treat. From left to right: Sarah, Amanda, Kelsey, Rachel, and Rachel. And little Maddi in the background. 

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The second group came back safe and sound. It was so much fun having everyone scream us on as we jumped and slid. What could’ve been tedious with scared beginners was actually such a fun adventure. I would definitely recommend going canyoning if you have the change. If not in France, then wherever it’s offered. I had so much fun and will go every chance I get. 

We’re off to Cern for the afternoon and then are going to play laser tag in the evening. I’ll write as soon as I can! Ciao.

Sabbath + The Saleve

Bon Sabbat! Today the summer French students presented the worship service for the Collonges church. Two students gave testimonies. One of them was my cousin, Sarah Macomber. She spoke about her time in Chad and having to rely on God every day. David, her husband, translated. 

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This is David and Sarah.

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Tiago, a dentist from Portugal, shared his testimony about reconnecting with God in his life. He came here wanting to change his life and he has! He used to be a heavy smoker, but by the grace of God, he has been clean for 3 weeks now! We’re all so proud of him. 

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Rachel, Nathalia, and I sang an acapella piece for special music. We combined “I Surrender All” with “Down by the Riverside.” Despite the girls feeling a little under the weather, all went well.

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Weekly Sabbath selfie with Gielle, Maddi, Rachel and me. 

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This is some of our group. From left to right: Maddi, me, Rebecca, Freud, Rachel, Alex, Gielle, Brittany. 

After church we changed into comfortable clothes and drove up the Saleve for a picnic lunch. 

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Lunch was buffet style. The ingredients they brought were for “burritos,” but they turned out more like wraps. It was one of the freshest, lightest meals we’ve had here so far.

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Cucumber, tomato, corn, lettuce, guacamole, cheese, beans, and a spicy sauce. Yum.

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The girls chowin on their “burritos.”

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We sat on the grass and just relaxed. The weather was inconsistent. The sky was dark, but bright bursts of sun popped through every now and then. It sprinkled a little, but then stopped.

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This is us sharing an awkward family photo moment.

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I made a flower crown out of some wildflowers (that I got scolded for picking by a random lady). But it’s okay because Maddi looks super cute. 

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We drove down the mountain just as it started to rain. It let up though, and is just overcast now. Dinner is pretty soon. Some of us might play hide and seek tonight in the dark. Tomorrow we’re supposed to go canyoning, if the weather permits. We’re keeping our fingers crossed. It sounds like so much fun! We’re trying to enjoy every moment we have left here. School ends on Thursday. It feels like the time has flown by. 

I’ll try to post as much as possible to capture all of the events of these last few days. I might not have time, as we have a lot of tests and functions coming up. But I’ll keep you posted. Au revoir! 

 

Red Cross Museum

Bon soir! This afternoon we visited the Red Cross Museum in Geneva.

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The museum had three architects who constructed the three wings of the museum. One was Brazilian, one was Japanese, and one was from Burkina Faso. They were overseen by a Swiss architect. The inside of the museum was so classy and sophisticated.

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This engraving roughly translates to “Each is responsible for all, before all.” The themes of the museum are 1. Defending Human Dignity. 2. Restoring Family Links. 3. Reducing Natural Risks.

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One of the first sights we beheld was a circular room filled with moving people. While they were projections, they were filmed while looking at the camera. They had the appearance of being alive, much like Skyping or Facetiming someone. They each have a unique story. We listened to these stories throughout our museum visit.

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A photo of the first Red Cross ever used.

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These different voodoo dolls represent a mother, father, and child. The patterns on the dolls coordinate with stories of people who have suffered injustices and tragedies.

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This giant foot protruding out of the ceiling stood on top of a screen that showed images of hardship. Clips from the Holocaust, tsunamis, and starvation showed across the ground. I think it was to symbolize how much people continue in their daily lives without giving thought to the suffering going on around them.

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Part of the architecture done by the Japanese man. He focused mostly on cylinders that looked like they were made out of compacted cardboard.

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We moved on to a room that had a touchscreen table. We played a game where all of us, together, had to build a safe island. Jobs were created, trees were planted, shelters were built. Then, a tsunami hit. After the wave passed, the computer showed how good of a job you had done. We ended up saving only half of the people. I didn’t think much of the game at first, but it shows how we need to work together to help underdeveloped and countries in need. It takes everyone working as a team to successfully reduce natural risks.

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These were some pictures of the first nurses in history, and those working for the Red Cross.

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We walked through a small room filled with chains hanging from the ceilings. They made an irritating high-pitched noise when they clanged together.

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The museum had files and files of original medical cards of people they’ve helped over time. We walked down several aisles of these.

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This wall was covered with the faces of children from Rwanda. After the genocide that occurred when the country split, over 7,000 children were separated from their parents. The Red Cross went in and took pictures of the children. They were showed in towns and reconnected over 4,000 children with their parents. This is only half of the faces. The photographs continue up the wall.

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The layout of the museum was so tasteful. It had a very somber feel, which was extremely appropriate, considering the emphasis put on hardship, tragedies, and disaster. It really made one think about the world we live in.

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The most interesting room, in my opinion, was one that had a wall that was a giant computer screen. Something very unique about this museum is that a majority of the exhibits are hand-on. The fibers roll and change color, ranging from red to green to white. They continue to roll until someone puts his hand on it. Then, the fibers swirl and change direction. Physical touch draws the fibers to a common point.

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When people change their values and actions, they can change the world. By choosing to step in, we can make a difference in the world.

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This is Njord and me trying out the wall. It was really fun to see the wave formations all come to a centralized point. When he held the wall for a long time, the light became so small he could hide it under his hand. It takes a few minutes for the wall to get back to its full grandeur. We were really interested by the movements and patterns and spent a fair amount of time testing it.

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Sadly, our tour came to an end with only a few minutes of spare time. I would have liked to stay longer and hear each person’s stories, but there wasn’t the time. There was a Nespresso machine in the lobby. For one Frank we had delicious cups of some kind of coffee that started with an L. (It was in Italian and frankly, I didn’t come here to learn Italian).

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We loaded the bus and headed back to school. If you are in Geneva ever, I would definitely recommend the Red Cross Museum. It’s right across the street from the United Nations headquarters, so you could kill two birds with one stone. Sorry for the long post, but I was just so interested in all of the history, culture, and thought-provoking ideas I was exposed to.

Hope your week has been nice. It’s almost the weekend! Yay! Ciao.

 

 

Bastille Day

Salut! Yesterday was a very eventful day for us! In the morning we ate brunch that was prepared for us by the deans and RAs. We had scrambled eggs, chocolate filled croissants, baguettes, and cereal. We left for Annecy shortly after. Before arriving in Annecy, we stopped by the Gorges du Fier. The river has gone down so much in the past 65 years. It was really fun (and kind of scary) walking on the high, slippery pathway. But inside the gorge was beautiful. I’m really glad we got to stop there. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   We looked around for a while and then headed to Annecy. We were given the whole afternoon to wander around. The fireworks were to start at 10 when it was dark out. We wandered around the adorable little town and spent a leisurely afternoon there. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset   Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset   Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   Everywhere we go we try the ice cream. The ice cream we ate in Annecy was by far the best we’ve had on this trip. We all agreed on that. We tried pistachio, coconut, lavender, lemon, mango, and cappuccino. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   Sometimes we even force-feed it to each other because it’s so good. (Rachel). Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   This was Maddi and my second round of ice cream. Whoops! We went back to the grassy park by the lake and did homework for a while. Rachel and Maddi went and grabbed paninis for us. Warm paninis really hit the spot. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   There weren’t very many people at first, but the grass started to fill up gradually. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset   This was everyone watching the fireworks. They were so beautiful! It pains me to say this, but Annecy put on the best firework show I have ever seen in my life. It sounds funny to say that there’s an art to creating a firework program, but I really think there was. The show lasted for about 20 minutes and the fireworks were so, so beautiful. Everyone sat in a reverent awe. It was a wonderful first Bastille Day experience for me. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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Sorry for the overload, but I think they’re worth it. We arrived back at school at midnight and had class this morning at 9. We’ve been doing homework and practicing for this weekend. This coming church service is going to be put on entirely by the students here in the summer program. I hope it goes well. It’s time for worship now. A plus tard!