Monday, January 10, 2005

5 weeks in America, 5 more months in Tonga

Amber and I are heading home to the Kingdom of Tonga tomorrow following five weeks in the United States over the holidays. We arrived to Chicago on December 7 in the hopes of visitng with some sick family members, enjoying time with loved ones, and finding some relief from the sweltering heat of Tonga in the summertime. While our time at home has been difficult at points, we were able to achieve all those goals.

On December 16 Amber said goodbye to her grandfather Leslie Cooksey, and on December 25 Cliff said goodbye to his grandmother Florence Hoffman. We are incredibly grateful to have been able to be with our families during those times, and our last few months of Peace Corps service will be far less stressful knowing that Grandpa and Nana are no longer enduring pain and suffering.

As we return to Tonga, our first and foremost goal is to effectively transition the Vava'u Youth Centre from being managed by us to being managed by our Tongan counterparts. The entire point of our coming months in Vava'u is teaching the skills that will keep the VYC growing long after we leave. As always, we'd love to hear from you as we labor on far from home. Feel free to check out all our former entries at the recently re-published website, write our e-mail addresses of cliftonofun@yahoo and aminchicago@yahoo, check out this new weblog we're trying, or simply to send us cash and gifts. :)

Somewhere around mid-June we hope to close our service in Tonga, commence with some travelling throughout the globe on our way home, and then return to the Chicago area to seek out new employment and get Cliff a new hip. Once we're back, we look forward to touching base with all of you.

Thanks again for caring,