As my time in Ancash comes to a close (is it really my last day here?), I've been thinking about all of the people who helped me through my Peace Corps service.
Thanks to Caryn, Ruth, Caitlin, Becky, Alisa, Ann-Marie, Katie Kelley, Gail, Anna, Jackie, Grandpa, and all the other people who sent me e-mails - they were always treasured. Thanks to my Grandmas for all of the letters and cards - I've saved every single one. Thanks to Caryn and Ruth for not getting annoyed when I would call them twenty times in ten minutes because I had internet access and needed to talk to them. Thanks to Gail and Tim for posting pictures and status updates about the girls - I'm able to feel close to them even though I'm so far away. And thanks for talking about me so Emme knows who I am - hearing "I love you Bethie" in the background of a phone conversation always made my week. Thanks to everyone who sent packages, e-mails, cards, letters, and prayers. Thanks to everyone who supported me through this difficult decision and left no doubt in my mind that you just want me to be happy.
But the biggest thanks have to go to my Mom and Dad. Thank you for buying five round trip tickets to Peru in the past sixteen months. Thanks for calling whenever I asked you to and even when I didn't. Thanks for the text message countdowns and Packer score updates. Thanks for all the Skype credit so I could call friends in the States. Thanks for never telling me I was crazy. Thanks for the laptop, the Kindles, the clothes, and the loans. Thanks for the books and the gifts for my Quechua kids. Thanks for listening while I cried and for celebrating my successes. Thanks for telling me that you'll always be proud of me. Thanks for loving me when I felt like I didn't deserve it. Thanks for believing me.
Mom, more and more each day I proudly notice ways that I'm like you. When I bake cookies because my friends are coming over or go out of my way to comfort someone who is sick or sad, I think, "I'm doing this because it's what Mom would do." Thank you for teaching me that family and friends are the most important things in this world and that going the extra mile to support and love them is always the right decision - no matter the cost. Thanks for showing me that strength and determination can take you far and that hard work, albeit difficult, is incredibly rewarding. I love you.
Dad, the way you care for and love Mom, Gail, Monica, Emme, Elie, and myself is an incredible example of unconditional love. Your character, faith, and unfailing support teaches me what a real man should do. When I look at the hooligans in my life, it's your voice in my head that says, "You deserve more than this." I love you.