Monday, November 18, 2013

To the Missionaries...

Dear (Redacted),

How many years ago was it that we lived across the hall from one another our freshmen year of college? It feels like a lifetime ago and yet I don't feel old. But a few years ago my children's babysitter heading off to our alma mater and moved into our old dorm, except it wasn't the same because our dorm was torn down and then a new one rebuilt in its place.

Oh the conversations we all had in those rooms on Horton Upper Odd. Life dreams and dark pasts. Impending exam stress and laughing late at night. Getting to know one another at first and then getting to know one another deeper. Our paths at school were so different. And we drifted from that small core as we grew into our college selves. I left to study abroad, never returning to Horton. But we would still see one another around campus after I returned. I remember talking to you after you met your husband, wow were you in love - such a beautiful, wise, real love.

At some point you got married. I think I had graduated by then. Moved away. And then moved again. At some point I met my husband and we got married and settled down for the first time as man and wife in southern California. You and I got together again then. I honestly don't remember how or where. I don't even remember when you first decided to move overseas, though I always knew you planned to be a missionary, or when we joined your team in our own small way. It was so long ago.

I have learned so much watching you and your family as you lived first in a country we don't want to name, to the visa issues, the discretion needed, the having to leave your new home because it was too challenging politically to stay. My husband worked for a global power company at the time and they had a power plant in that country. I always loved knowing that in some small way your work and his were connected. I loved reading your letters and then emails about your next stop and the neighbor who always complained you were too loud, or the long bus trip to language school. I was amazed at your perseverance, first to learn one language and now another. To learn one culture, and now another. One door was closed but you moved on and found a new place where God needed you. I have always loved the newsletters you and your husband wrote. It was from you I first learned the power of being connected through only the written word.

At some point you were called to move again, this time to a place we could name out loud. Oh how freeing it was to know I could email you without worry about writing the wrong thing. And your mission, a prayer tank... how much I have learned from you about intercession and the role of prayer in my life. You were a crucial part of my beginning to really understand prayer, to really engage God in dialogue both throughout the day and in intentional set apart times.

I think back to that time you visited us in the Bay Area while you were in the neighborhood. Oh how wonderful it was to sit on the couch across from you and get to talk with you face to face, to get to glean wisdom from your stories and your thoughtful study of God, His word, and His work in this world. Oh how I loved that day. But you are a missionary, you live across the world from me. I was thankful for that day but so wishing for more.

And then you started a blog... Joy of joys for me. It isn't quite the same as sitting across the table from one another, but I love getting a glimpse into your mind. What a treat, what a challenge, what a blessing for me.

I have loved getting to go along vicariously on your adventures, of seeing God's provision and care in your life, of watching your kids grow and you and your husband step into the place of caring for others as you have become the older, wiser ones now.

Thank you for taking us along on this wild ride through your words!


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