As I write this, I'm sitting in the Johannesburg airport waiting to fly home for my dear friend Louisa's wedding. Well, to be fair, I'm flying home for my furlough, but the first thing on the agenda is getting Lou married!
I've never told you about Lou on here, or maybe even fully about my journey that landed me living in Zambia. But it kind of all begins with Lou and a friendship that completely changed my life.
Lou and I met the summer after my freshman year of college. I went to OC and she went to Harding, but we both ended up on an internship in Jinja, Uganda that summer. We were both a little stand offish at first, not quite sure about the other. But over time and by the sweetness of God, we became friends. She would quickly tell you I'm not her best friend and she's not mine (this always makes people laugh because it sounds so weird), but we are each other's kindred spirits. In that first summer together, we bonded over A.W. Tozer's Pursuit of God, over sickness and an inability to swallow pills at an embarrassing age, and hearts that were starting to feel called far away from home. Before that internship in Africa, I'd never thought about the things Lou and I would talk about and question. I'd never had any desire to do anything but get married and raise my kids exactly like I was raised, to be honest. So many questions started troubling me as I left Uganda that summer, and Lou remained that person who "got it" in my life.
After a couple more trips back to parts of Africa, we decided to move to Namwianga together. The decision and process to get there is a story for another day, but the point is that Lou and I embarked on a journey together that would change our lives forever.
We were oh so naive. I'm laughing right now just remembering so many of the hilarious memories and mistakes we made early on. We just had no idea what all was in store for us. I always tell people if someone had told me before I left all that would happen to me while I was in Zambia, I probably would not had been strong enough to still choose to go.
But go we did. Together. It was Louisa who taught me to drive a stick shift. It was Louisa who went wild in the rain with me the first time we experienced real African rain. It was Lou who was with me the night Harper died and I was all alone and away from my family in America. It was Lou who taught me how to be more sympathetic. It was Lou who made me laugh until I peed my pants so times. It was Lou who weathered culture shock with me and I with her. It was Lou who walked with me through so much death and so many questions and helped me learn to see light again. It was Lou who continued to support me even after she moved back to America and I remained in Zambia. There will always be a part of me that only Lou will totally know and understand, and I'm so grateful for that connection and gift.
Someone wise once said something to the effect of "Each friend represents a world in us, a world not possibly born until their arrival" (I'm in the airport, okay? It's tough to look these things up!). But Louisa opened up so many new worlds to me. She made me braver and stronger and wiser and happier and healthier. She affirmed me and challenged me and asked questions with me. I've never known someone whose opinions and ideas of the world and mission and poverty and love mirror my own so closely.
And now she's getting married and I get to be there to stand beside her and I couldn't be happier.
And then I get to hug all my family, and my church family, and my friends. My heart feels pretty full. (I'm just not thinking about all the little ones my heart's already missing!)
** Now I'm sitting on a plane to Oklahoma City to see my family, but just now posting this I wrote before I landed for Lou's wedding! The wedding was yesterday, and now it's off to new fun adventures! And this is my 20th blog! :)