We came as individuals, a merry fellowship of misfits with only one thing in common: the uncertainty of our year ahead. With 10 one-way tickets to the United Kingdom, we held hands and walked forward, becoming a union of disciples that would become a family through Christ. Now our years are ending, and while we still face the uncertainty of our lives ahead, we will leave holding hearts and a bond only created through the deepest vulnerabilities.
To Kari, the lover of life and life to the full: I am forever thankful for our Tuesday dinner dates of burgers and sweet potato fries while debriefing our London weeks of children, poverty, and ethnicity. You have a beautiful way of listening and reflecting the positive gifts you see in all our lives. Thank you for giving me the courage to continue forward so many times while showing me your confidence in the Big Man upstairs. I’m so glad we finally realized our placement sites were so close so we could use public transportation for what its best used for: bringing two great friends together.
To Emily, the free-spirited Minnesotan who has a heart for education and creativity: We experienced some of our most vulnerable moments and hilarious mistakes together when first moving to London. From learning the importance of signaling for the bus driver to stop to discovering the best food shops together I’m thankful for our shared space of living in Peckham together.
To Vickey, the storyteller who’s blood runs British: I’m so glad you were given the chance to interview with Paul and Victoria Sunday morning at DIP! Our group just wouldn’t be the same without you. Way back in the beginning when we were roommates in Chicago, I was so grateful for your confidence of living in England. Even though trains sense your presence and are always delayed, you’ve had quite the impressive year with your successful placement. You’ve got some mad writing skills and BMS World Mission is blessed to have you sharing their stories.
To Abby, the girl who needs a nicer word than nice to describe your compassionate personality: I feel like we are the long lost friends that had to find each other across the world. Of course we both did marching band, were drum majors, applied to LVC, and ended up serving together in the United Kingdom. I think my favorite memory of us this year was our simple meal together at Pizza Express while we talked and ate and talked some more. Thank for you always giving us the gift of your genuine friendship and leading by love.
To Elie, the one who’s never ceasing to laugh in the beauty of blessings: Newcastle is so lucky to have you for another year! You’re the person that lights up a room whenever you walk in, smiling, laughing, and forever telling stories of your endlessly wacky adventures. You are always seeking out the one, the one who may feel left out, misunderstood, or upset, and comfort them with kindness. Jean jackets and sorority Jesus fish for life.
To Scarlet, the North Carolinian artist who’s not afraid of a little challenge: I’ve admired the way you’ve patiently stayed strong while the winds of hardship have been relentless. You've taught me so much about the importance of taking the scary leap of faith… and having a great 90s ballad on hand for guitar jam sessions. I hope you always continue to share your gift of music; I know it has been such a blessing to so many people.
To Mike, the radical Jesus lover carrying a guitar and an apple: It’s been a blessing to watch you grow as a worship leader and youth director this year. You definitely have a gift of leading through faith. I’ve admired watching the way you are never afraid to speak out in a group (#extrovertproblems) and share your experiences of how the Holy Spirit is alive. I could always count on you for a prayer, a hug, a good apple, and a medley of camp songs.
To Nick, our loyal Chandler Bing, food photographer, and man with a heart of gold: INFJs for life. You were the first person I sat next to at DIP, before this adventure had officially started and we had no clue what lay ahead along the yellow brick road. I am so thankful for your friendship and the way we have processed this journey together. You always seemed to know before I did when I was struggling with a part of this year and appreciate all the times you just sat and listened. I am forever amazed at the words you find to describe this thing we call life and cannot wait to see where your next step will take you.
To Erin, the organized organizer who has been my friend through it all: We sync so well together whether it’s traveling through England, visiting markets, eating excessive amounts of food, or watching excessive amounts of Harry Potter. I am so grateful we both served in educational settings, discussing our students contrasting lives of posh wealth and poverty – and the neglect they both receive. You've been such a great role model this year for both your girls at school and us as volunteers. You’re already a great teacher and I cannot wait for you to have a classroom of your own someday.
How lucky am I to have a family that makes saying goodbye so hard? These are my people.