(continued from part one, here)
15. Chris, my love. Where do I even begin? From those early days in high school of wooing (him) and pining (me), to now as real live grown-ups with two kids and a minivan, he’s been steadfastly loving me. He’s taught me so much about kind words, servanthood, and how to be an all around better human being.
16. Dr. Rich Davis. I mean this quite literally: God used this philosophy professor in my first year to draw me back to Him. I learned that I could love God with my mind, and not only with my heart. For an INTP, that lesson was a total life-saver.
17. Joy (Jamer) Demoskoff. Camp counselor when I was twelve years old, friend today. Foundational lessons about God’s faithfulness and his relentless love for me, no matter what.
18. Joy (Lenentine) Feltmate. A role model of Godly womanhood to my middle school self, she graciously took an interest in me, gifting me with a glimpse of “what I wanted to be like when I grew up”.
19. The Carpenter’s. A brief encounter in Entebbe, Uganda. Fresh muffins, a hot shower to wash away a long journey’s dust and fear. The hospitality washed over me like a wave of confirmation in our timid thoughts towards long-term missions in Africa.
20. Sheldon Grabke. Took a chance on a fresh young college grad. My first full-time grown-up job. I had an office with my name on the door and quaking knees, wondering when everyone would figure out that I was indeed, an imposter. Everyone assumed I was capable… yikes! He believed in me, encouraged me, and expected excellence from me, which in turn caused me to do the same for myself.
21. Kristina Keoshkerian. A shared experience of being the “new girl”. Bonding over silly high-school girl jokes that only high-school girls understand, and laughter that didn’t stop ’til there were tears. Countless folded notes, top-secret confessions, exhortation and encouragement, and a maid-of-honor in my barely out-of-high-school wedding. Lessons of youthful friendship that knows no limits to its exuberance.
22. Sharon Khan. A deep and lasting connection forged over medium teas and maple donuts, pouring out of hearts and souls. Unmistakably trustworthy and irreplaceable. She is a truly beautiful example of selflessness, loyalty, and love.
23. Dave Fuller (and the fam!). Our first overseas missions experience was thanks to this man’s dedication and love for his students. He taught us that God’s calling knows no limits, and that following Him can be both terrifying and terribly exciting all at once.
24. Edithah Malobo. A kindred spirit in rural Tanzania, Africa. In my 3 months of being privileged to live life alongside her, the lessons are too numerous to list. The truth-bearing experience of ‘better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’; a reminder to leave fear behind and *love* with total abandon. Inside jokes, laughter, and sobs-upon-the-leaving, knowing one another in the most intimate-friendship-way possible, a lesson in cultural differences having little bearing in the context of God’s family. Nimekukosa kwa siku nyingi.
25. Charles Ngallaba. Another undeserved beautiful friendship that forgot about cultural barriers and called us to interdependency and humbly learning from each other. Lessons of humility and servanthood. The vast importance of gentleness and integrity.
26. Mama Augustina. In a mud hut on the mountain overlooking town, she welcomes us by running out into the yard, lifting me off my feet into a strong embrace with a wide smile that sparkles and crinkles the edges of her eyes. The moment is abruptly interrupted as a deep hacking cough weakens her AIDS-ravaged body. We go inside and she offers chai that she could not afford, and asks us to pray with her. I stumble over my Swahili Bible, reading the words slowly and carefully. She smiles with a peace in her eyes that I cannot fathom. Laughter bubbles up at the pure joy of hearing God’s Word.
27. My grandparents. From sleepovers and Sunday-dinners-after-church, the importance of multi-generational family togetherness was underscored again and again just in the every-day living. Fifty-something years of marriage are an amazing testament to the steady love and quiet commitment that is not only possible, but a privilege to witness.
28. Lydie Gascuel. The new girl in class. I introduced myself to her in an effort to be friendly and kind, and to make a new friend. As it turned out, she taught me more about stepping out in boldness than I ever could have dreamed. Her infectious friendliness and intentional befriending of those around her is an inspiration that I hold dear in my nomadic missionary lifestyle.
Tell me: who inspires you most in your life? What life-lessons do you owe to others?