Alison Honn: A sophomore in high school from Eugene, Oregon. Alison was the last to meet up with us at LAX as her travel schedule had been changed right before the trip. As we all waited in the the check in line for over an hour, Alison was still on a plane trying to get from Eugene to LA. It's funny how sometimes the shortest distance can cause the most problems. Alison thought that I was going to be a boy strangely enough. She thought that my name was "Stephen" not "Stephanie." Like I said, we were truly strangers when we showed up in LAX. Needless to say it didn't take her long to figure out that I am in fact a girl and the only boy on the trip was Jon.
Kaitlin Choquette: A senior in high school from Sloan, Iowa. Kaitlin became known as, or often referred to as our country girl. She lives in a town with a population of about 1,000 people and goes to a high school of only a couple hundred with about 5 towns feeding into it. She described things that I never really knew existed like roads that were set up in a 1 mile by 1 mile grid pattern and cops who knew literally everyone in town. Apparently in Sloan when you are driving and another car is approaching you know exactly who it is and you ALWAYS stop to wave to them. Kaitlin almost didn't make it to LAX either because of a huge snow storm that made her driveway impossible to get out of. I guess they don't have many plows in Sloan either. While on the trip Kaitlin showed her huge heart when she handed out 30 homemade "friendship bracelets" to the village kids that we passed while driving to Luang Namtha.
Jamie Sladkey (in back): a senior in high school from Naperville, Illinois. Tall and blonde, there was nowhere for Jamie to hide amongst the short, dark haired Thai and Lao people. Jamie is actually the niece of my former youth pastor Brita Moon (at the time) who married Jamie's uncle, Gary Gotberg. It's crazy the connections that exist within the small Covenant denomination. Jamie was actually the first person I met up with at LAX and my first roommate while we stayed in Bangkok. In the airport at LAX Jamie pulled out a HUGE Nikon camera and started to snap pictures while actually looking through an eye hole! Who does that these days? With compact digital cameras with screens, a lot of us barely even know how to use an eye hole to take a picture. But Jamie was a pro and her camera soon became known as the stalker camera. She's also a talented guitar player and singer which was very handy when we were told that we would have to sing some worship songs at a Thai church at the end of the trip. Jamie is someone that I think just has a really good grasp on who they are and what faith means to them and that was something that I really appreciated during the trip.
Sara Wilson (in front): a sophomore in high school from Seattle, Washington. Despite the contrast in height from Jamie, Sara has a huge personality. During the trip she was always really bubbly, friendly and outgoing. I remember on the last day in Thailand we went out to lunch with some girls from the Thai church we sang at and Sara and Kaitlin sat with one of the girls, Rebecca, broke down the language barrier and got to know her within minutes. Sara really does have a gift for making new friends quickly and painlessly. It's a talent I sometimes wish I had more of. Something else that I wish I could do like Sara is pack! She packed for the whole ten day trip in a tiny, bright pink, carry on suitcase! As Sara and her little pink bag rolled away at LAX to go back to Seattle, a little bit of the fun left the group.
Jon Foley: a high school sophomore from Kansas City, Missouri. Poor Jon, the only boy on the team. Jon is reminded me a little bit of Kaitlin seeing as how they're both from the Midwest. But as soon as he started talking about heavy metal and doing "stupid guy things" like shooting each other point blank with paint balls guns I soon realized that Kaitlin and Jon were nothing alike. Jon is hugely tall and quite a gentlemen. He always made sure that everyone else on the team was comfortable and always offered to help whenever he could. For instance, when we ate our first lunch in Thailand I stupidly ordered Coconut Juice. It came out as a coconut with a straw in it and my first sip was my last sip. I guess I am just not a fan. Seeing that there was no way I was going to drink from the coconut again, Jon insisted that we switch my juice for his Sprite. I don't even think he really liked coconut juice either, but he drank it anyway so that I could have something that I liked. Things like this continued to happen during the trip, like when he carried my huge bag (to be explained in a later blog) around LAX for about an hour etc. And of course who could forget the pigeon lady incident...also to be explained in a later blog...