day 2 // Good Shepherd + gardens

I woke up at 8am without an alarm [a blessing within itself!].

The light poured into our room and one look out of the open blinds took my breath away. The church service we were supposed to attend started at 10:30am, so I took my time getting ready.

We gathered for breakfast in our light, airy, 80’s vibe “chill” kitchen [our hard-core, industrial kitchen used for feeing tons of people was down a couple of floors] where we feasted on cereal, milk, grapes, Greek yogurt, and coffee [praise the Lord].

After breakfast we walked from our church to the Episcopal one across the street- Church of the Good Shepherd. Normally, I start my Sundays singing at the church right off campus, so it was nice to have a break and be in the congregation for once. Approaching the church, I couldn’t help but gasp softly— if there’s anything I absolutely love about this trip so far, it’s the gorgeous architecture. It’s so tropical with a bit of Spanish influence, with touches of modernity, depending on the building.

When we stepped in, I felt an odd sense of familiarity in conjunction with reverent awe— the arches and the high ceilings accented with rustic light fixtures melted into towering walls with gorgeous stained glass windows. We were a bit early, but that was perfect for taking in the space.

The service started and I was surprised [pleasantly!] with the amount of Franz Schubert used, and also with the placement of the altar. It was right up against the frontmost wall of the church, leaving no room for the officiant(s) to stand behind it. Our priest explained the theology behind it; she said that with the altar at the front of the church, it allowed for all of the action [prayers, sacraments, etc.] to be “sent forward”.

The service was lovely, and afterwards we met/took pictures with the pastors and staff of the church and got an opportunity to look around.

On our way back to our homestead we bumped into the additional mission group joining us from a neighboring college. Some introductions later and then we were off again to the H. E. Butts to do our shopping for the week.

Perhaps my favorite part of the day, however, was our trip to the Botanical Gardens in Corpus. What an astounding variety of plants, the likes of which I’ve never seen before.

We went inside a reptile room for a few minutes [we couldn’t be in there too long because a child was having their birthday party there and they wanted to make sure all the animals were in there cages and whatnot]. I saw a tarantula, I held a snake, and got bitten by a parrot! We saw a yellow bellied turtle who couldn’t stop smiling, a Komodo dragon a green [!!!💚] iguana, and tortoises!!

We could not escape the plethora of vibrant-feathered birds in the rest of the gardens [a lot of them temperamental McCaws].

We ventured further into and beyond the greenhouse, where I was confronted with the most orchids I’ve ever seen in one area, complete with the biggest orchid I’ve ever seen [bigger than my hand…!!!

We then saw some cacti, more birds, and a couch made out of mosaic and stone. Time passes really quickly when you’re surrounded by plants and animals, and before we knew it we had to head back to make dinner and meet the other other group from Baylor who was also staying with us.

We split up the week’s cooking responsibilities amongst teams, and feasted on spaghetti with chicken cutlets and salad, good fuel in anticipation for the day ahead.

Later our priest had to pick up some water coolers, so we filled our time with another night beach visit. The water was more agitated than last night, and a bit colder, on account of the increased wind speeds. We ventured out onto a dock near the sea wall and felt the bay’s spray against our faces as we looked up to a clear sky displaying Orion and the Big Dipper.

We finished off the night with some Cards Against Humanity with our new friends and cherished the last hours of rest before the work week ahead.

The first two days feel so surreal— the weather is SO much better [temperature-wise] than back home, we were blessed with such well-equipped living accommodations. What a beautiful start to the week.

That being said, I can’t wait to get working tomorrow.


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