Friday, August 05, 2005

Summer Trips

The bags are unpacked, the laundry’s done, and the accumulated mail is sorted and awaiting action. It’s a bit of a letdown that our summer trips are over, and the mundane routines of life at home have resumed. But what an adventure Gerry and I have shared, and now I’ll record some of the highlights.

California: June 7-9

In June, Gerry and I had a wonderful 3 days in southern California (my first time to see the LA area), the first leg of our week’s adventure. There were 16 of us volunteers in attendance at the home office of Advanced Bionics, coming from all over the USA and from Canada. The agenda for the 2 days of training was packed with presentations by senior managers, research directors, and training supervisors. Their goal was to equip us with knowledge: to understand the company's history, to increase our understanding of the implant technology, and to inform us of current research and future vision. We were provided with many resources to take home and were free to ask questions and to share our experiences with them and with each other. It was so exciting to meet the leadership and to see in action the company's commitment to service to the customer and of their pursuit of “best-in-class” technology.

On the second day, we were given a marvelous tour of the manufacturing plant by the facility's Vice President. I was so awed by the privilege of seeing the complexity of the "miracle" in my head, of learning of the years of research to develop each component, and of observing the skill of so many hands in assembling the parts under high-powered microscopes in sterile rooms with specially designed instruments, high-tech machines, computers, and . . . . It was really an overwhelming 2 days, to say the least!

Georgia: June 9-12

We left California to fly to Georgia to begin Phase 2 of our trip. My parents met us in Atlanta, and Gerry took the wheel to drive us to the north Georgia mountains for the GPCIA (Georgia Peach Cochlear Implant Association) family weekend retreat. God graciously provided safety on the highways for my folks' journey from Orlando, and the trip northward on Friday seemed effortless since we had so much to share. We even missed our exit because we were too busy talking!

Our task at the conference was to give 2 presentations during the workshop times and to interact during the "free" time and mealtimes with fellow CIers and those who had come to investigate/learn about implants. Following the keynote address Saturday morning by Heather Whitestone, Miss America 1995, we spoke on the topic, "We're in This Together: the Shared Journey of Hearing Loss and Restoration". Gerry and I wanted to alternate in our sharing, using a back-and-forth style as we shared both personal experiences and practical suggestions. Being unpracticed at this, we asked God for smoothness and ease, as well as a clear testimony of God's design for marriage. We jointly felt His empowering and the prayer support of family and friends! We were reminded afresh that God keeps His promises! I noticed that Mom and Dad were misty-eyed throughout our presentation!

An interactive "rap" session was on the schedule following our talk in which we were to field questions and encourage the audience to share their reactions to what we had said. To think that I could actually hear people’s questions and could interact with individuals afterwards is nothing short of miraculous!

Miami: July 13-14

After a long, hot drive and a less-than-invigorating encounter with Miami’s afternoon gridlock traffic, we arrived at the Airport Hilton. The beautiful view of the surrounding lake and the distant downtown skyline from our 17th floor window immediately refreshed us.

It was such a joy to share our story that evening with the attendees of the Advanced Bionics summer seminar. Back in our room, we critiqued our presentation and made many changes in the hopes of improving it for our next opportunity. I was too mentally stimulated to sleep soundly that night, which turned out to be a blessing as I was easily awakened by the glorious colors of the sunrise.

New Orleans: July 27-28

Flying Southwest Airlines to New Orleans was not one of the highlights of our trip to New Orleans. We didn't realize that we'd be at the end of the line for first-come-first-serve seating on a flight that originated from Hartford - - - ah, the stuff of which memories are made! After checking in at the Hyatt Regency and photographing our very urban view from the 26th floor, we decided we had time to walk to the river before our evening commitments. I'd never seen the mighty Mississippi and was eager to get a sense of this famous city of good food, old architecture, and jazz music. The way to see the city is on foot, but on a humid July afternoon it's also the way to become a pool of sweat!
Our second summer seminar began with lots of informal conversations before the start of the official program. I think that it's the interesting people we are privileged to meet and the sharing of common struggles and triumphs that warms our hearts at Advanced Bionics events. One dear gentleman emailed me the next day and said, "It was so refreshing to see someone like you, who had experienced the pain, discomfort, embarrassment, etc., come out a winner with the implant . . . . You are one of the big reasons that I'm following through with this surgery. You've made it a lot easier for me . . . . Thanks for your positive attitude and prayers. I'm dedicating this surgery to the ADAMS!! " Now, I ask you, who needs any greater reward!