As I continue to catch up on Blogs of our German Exchange Student’s last week with us… Lara’s Going Away Party was definitely a highlight… along with Lara’s mother arriving at our home! Ana, and her mother’s friend, Gisela, arrived Tuesday evening. We spent hours talking about Lara’s life here and getting to know one another… although I felt like I knew Lara’s mother my whole life. We really have a lot in common. I guess that is why I got along with Lara so well! It was truly an honor to finally meet Ana in person! On Wednesday, we took Lara to get her American Driver’s License and then Ana and Gisela went to the Tonto National Forest of Cactus and to Canyon Lake. All of this led up to Thursday night, May 31 at 6:00pm… Lara’s Going Away Party!
All day Thursday… while we prepared for Lara’s party… Lara, Ana and Gisela visited local sites in downtown Tempe and Phoenix. We wanted them to explore the Valley while we focused on the party’s theme… All American with Red, White & Blue everywhere! All the guests were asked to wear one, two or all three of the colors and the food and decorations matched! It was fun searching Pinterest for ideas! Our daughter, Amber, who went to culinary school, was here early to help! It’s always nice having the Pastry Chef Professional here for a party! She made a Layered Berry Trifle with Angel Food Cake, Strawberries, Blueberries and whipped cream! A red, white & blue beauty! Brittany made red, white & blue cupcakes… and displayed them on a plate like an American flag. I made White chocolate covered strawberries with blue sprinkles on the end! You can see from the photos that we tried to do as many foods as possible in America’s colors!
Brittany and Lara’s best friends, Morgan and Gabby, headed up the decoration committee! I gave them rolls and rolls of red, white and blue streamers… and other decorations… and told them to go wild!! And they did! It was so festive and colorful in the house. And outside they hung bunting over the front door and put streamers on the bushes! It looked like we were celebrating the 4th of July!!!
At 6:00pm, friends and family started filling our home. If someone met Lara during her time here, they were invited to celebrate her experience and say farewell! I think my favorite thing at the party was a gift our oldest daughter, Melody, brought for Lara. It was a sash saying “Miss America” as if Lara were in a Beauty Pageant! I estimate about 65 people came in and out the door. And as each person came in, I introduced them to Lara’s mother and explained to her how Lara had met that person and how they impacted her life here. At the beginning, it was a little overwhelming for Ana to see all the celebration for her daughter and cried tears of joy. She always knew here baby girl created a life for herself here but I think she realized, at that time, that Lara was loved by so many!
Our friend, Kim, is a professional photographer so I asked her if she would take pictures at the party. As you can see… she truly captured the celebration! If you’ve been following the Blog, you may remember that Kim is who Lara stayed with for 5 days while we went to Nebraska for my father-in-law’s funeral. Lara took a Digital Photo class in High School here and developed a talent for photography, that she shares with Kim.
There were just as many adults as there were friends at the party. Gabby and Morgan created a photo slide show of Lara to two of her favorite songs… covering her 10 months in America. We had that photo show playing in our Game Room throughout the night so anyone who came in the room would see all the fun Lara had here. It included more than 100 photos and was so fun to watch! Everyone loved it!
I was afraid this was going to be an emotional night for Lara as she had to say good-bye to so many people. But she held up pretty well! She laughed and hugged everyone as they left… but not many tears were shed from her eyes. Instead… it was me that became emotional. My first tears in public came that night as friends and family were asking about what was going to happen the day she left, how we were going to take her to the airport and how would we say good-bye. As I talked about it, the tears just came. It was now a reality that the teenager who was part of our lives for 10 months, would be leaving in less than 48 hours!
Coming up next…. saying Good-bye at the Airport. Have a tissue ready for that one. I know I will. 🙂 In the meantime, enjoy the pictures!