I have been writing to our daughter throughout my pregnancy in a little journal. It’s been a fun way to record special memories as I tell her about milestones and other thoughts and feelings I experience while she is growing inside me. Here is a recent entry, dated Oct 22nd, that gives you a glimpse into one of my favorite days during our recent visit to the USA…

“Dear Darling Baby,

We sure were loved on and spoiled today! After a wonderful church service at the Chapel in Akron, we went to our ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship) and they had food including my favorite breakfast food, creme sticks, to celebrate us being there. We shared some about our lives and ministry, and then they had a surprise shower for us! Can you believe they went together and bought the carseat we’d picked out for you?! We were thrilled!

The carseat (before we unwrapped it)!

And then our good friend wheeled out the stroller we wanted for you too announcing that someone anonymously gave it to us for you! We were so humbled by their generosity and excited to have such great things for you! We also told the group that their continual support is something we cherish. As missionaries it is so difficult to find a community that is so intentional about staying connected to us and caring so well for us and our friendship despite the miles that usually separate us. But they have been exactly that kind of community for us and we’re so thankful!

Then after we left church (which by the way we dreaded doing because it was SO refreshing to be there after months without any fellowship or teaching like it!) your Grandma hosted a baby shower for us! It was at a Community Center and lots of close family and friends came to celebrate you!

Your Grandma Embaugh had it beautifully decorated with Psalm 139:13-14 – a passage that has been extra special to me since I found out about you – as the theme and a piece of your daddy’s artwork as the centerpiece. There were lovely silver vases on the tables filled with flowers in deep gold, wine, and purple colors – like your room will be!…There was a spread of tasty food including broccoli cheddar soup and chicken noodle soup, (made by your Grandma) and chili (made by your great Grandma)…Aunt Teena made mini cheesecakes and there was a terrific cake your Aunt Tanya brought decorated with yellow frosting with purple trim, a purple bow across it, and the words “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” in little pearls. It all tasted great too!

The program for the shower started with your Grandma making some announcements and welcoming everyone including your other Grandma (Tello) who joined us via Skype. She then handed it over to Aunt Teena and Great Grandma Embaugh who had a special sing-a-long presentation called “Erika’s Disney Baby Tales”. It was a rendition of songs from some of my favorite Disney movies with the lyrics changed to say cute and funny things about you and me…It was terrific! Then my cousin, Lexi recited Psalm 139:13-14 for the group (she did great!) and my Aunt Debbie (Todd’s wife) spoke about motherhood. I so appreciated her tender, honest, and heartfelt words.

The rest of the shower was time for us (me with you inside) to open presents! It was so fun to start holding baby things because we decided to wait until our visit to the US to get you things. There were so many sweet gifts but I’ll name a few. Your Grandma got you a onesie that says “Daddy’s Little Sweetheart” (which I know your daddy will love to see you wear) and some hair barrettes that I wore when I was a little girl! Your Grandma (and Grandpa) Tello gave you your first little doll and lots of other pretty clothes. Your Aunt Debbie gave us a blanket that my Great Grandma Clugston knitted for Lexi. Debbie knew if Grandma Clugston was still alive, she would have made one for you so she thought we should have it. I was so happy and sad to receive it! One of the funniest gifts was a bib from your Aunt Teena that said “My Aunt is Hot and Single!”. Maybe we can snag an Italian for her (who can read English) while we have you out and about in town! And of course you got lots of Ohio State outfits so you can represent well early in life!

Besides the lovely shower Grandma organized and the packages filled with wonderful things people gave, it was so good for my heart to celebrate you with people I love and who care so much about you and me! Experiencing something so wonderful as your life growing inside of me while being so far away from them has been really difficult at times. So, I am extremely thankful to God for the gift this visit was!

Next time you meet a lot of your family and my friends you might already be walking or talking! It makes me sad how much of your life they will miss and how you’ll miss out on time with them in the meantime, but I sure am looking forward to introducing you to them in person whenever that day does come!