Some of the sweetest friendships can be forged from 7,000 miles away. At least, that's how it happened for Emma and Abby.
Many of you have been following this sweet story since the girls began to pray for their wish to be granted - to meet each other someday. The Make-a-Wish Foundation of New Zealand was hesistant to consider the wish because Emma's cystic fibrosis meant she might not be well enough for international travel, and even if she were, insurance companies were likely to turn her down.
But they eventually did say yes, and after rejection from the first insurance company, Emma and her mum Angela persisted. In June, we learned that Emma and Angela would indeed be coming after all.
The much-anticipated day arrived, they landed in Los Angeles after a 12-hour flight, and we made our way to their hotel near Disneyland. We knocked with anticipation and behind the door Angela and Emma were giving each other a look that said, "What if we don't like each other?!"
But after the first 5 minutes - no kidding - we were all fast friends.
There were Bert and Mary to meet
Teacups to conquer
And a castle to see
Traditional American BBQ
Rides to take over and over and over . . .
Disney even provides a Wish Lounge for wish recipients to relax and rest
But Disneyland is, of course, just a small part of all that California has to offer. After leaving the park, we made our way to Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills, and out to the coast and Highway One where we had dinner in Malibu.
Two days were spent in our home, and I introduced Angela to the Costco shopping experience. Aside from her shock at the amazing prices on American staples like Levis, I think she left with a slight addiction to churros, as well.
One of the sweetest joys was the opportunity to worship together on Sunday. At one point during the service I put my arm around Angela and whispered, "Can you believe we're worshipping together?" Our girls' friendship grew our own over the years, and for that I am very grateful.
Our home is just an hour and a half from Yosemite National Park, and we love to take visitors there who have never seen its grandeur. We rode the Sugar Pine Train, spent a day in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and on the valley floor, gazing up at the beauty of Half Dome and El Capitan.
Something cracked them up at the Ahwahnee Hotel
None of us was up to climbing Half Dome, but we sure enjoyed the view from below
What's a visit to California without an In-and-Out Burger?
At this point, Emma and Abby were beginning to dread having to say goodbye in just a few days. We had another day at home where the girls just hung out, played card games, giggled, and enjoyed each other in real life, off the Skype screen they're so used to.
On their last day together, we headed to San Francisco for the day, attempting to squeeze in a few city highlights before heading to the airport.
It was a gorgeous day to see the Golden Gate Bridge. In the 3 years we lived in San Francisco, I think the weather was like this for a whopping 5 days. Not even kidding.
We watched San Francisco sourdough made, then lunched at Boudin
Tummies full, we drove up to the top of Lombard Street and wound our way down. Heading out of the city toward the airport, the girls spent the entire car trip scheming how to get to each other's homes again. Angela and I see a lot of willing babysitting by big sisters in our futures . . .
Slooooowly walking toward her gate, putting goodbyes off as long as possible
Thank you, Make-a-Wish New Zealand and Make-a-Wish America. Because you allowed Emma to dream big, these two girls spent the best week of their lives together and forged a bond that will last a lifetime.