This is a story I’ve told to many people over the last 6 months or so. It’s yet another true story of God’s faithfulness to me in providing beyond what I could ever think or imagine in ways beyond what I could ever think or imagine. Everyone seems to think it’s a pretty good story, so I figured I’d tell it here.
I’ll start at the very beginning…I’ve heard it’s a very good place to start. 🙂 When I was 4 years old I began a 14 year career as a student at Wilmington Christian Academy. One of a handful of classmates who would be with me from start to finish of those years was a competitive little math facts whiz and sports fanatic named Adam Meshaw. If my memory serves me, I think we ended up in the same class for each of those 14 years. We were as good of friends as any two boy/girl friends can be all the way through graduation. In high school, I played every sport the school would allow me to play. When you go to a small school and are involved in every sports season there is, you get to know the other athletes really well. Lots of time spent on 2 hour late-night bus rides coming home from away games, weekends of tournaments and tons of cheering each other on. My friend, Adam also played every sport, as did his big brother, Michael, who was 2 years older than we were. We all went to youth group, summer camp and sports camps together outside of school and just generally spent a good amount of time together.
The summer before my junior year, I went on a missions trip with a medical and construction team to Corralitos, Honduras. There was a handful of other students as well as many adults on that trip, including my friend, Michael. It was a memorable trip for me and one that led me to choose a career in medicine/nursing so I could one day return to the mission field.
Michael had just graduated that year, so other than bumping into him every now and then at homecoming, I really didn’t see him too much after that summer, and didn’t keep in touch with he or Adam after I graduated from our alma mater and moved on to college life and beyond.
Flash forward 14 years to 2011. Nate and I had just moved back home to Wilmington after spending 9 years growing our marriage and our family in Kansas City, MO. Three months into being back we’d finally moved into a home and were figuring out what life would look like for us. It was interesting for me especially, back in my hometown, but now a wife and mom of two. It was fun reconnecting with old friends and spending time with my family, but I hadn’t made any new friends to speak of and missed my KC friends desperately. Then, something wonderfully unexpected happened. I was walking out of church on a Sunday morning and who do I see, but Mr. Michael Meshaw himself! Because I had such fond memories of the glory days at WCA and because I am a sweet southern girl who hadn’t seen her friend in well over a decade, I ran right up to that dude and hugged his hairy neck. He introduced me to his precious 3 year-old daughter who was standing next to him and then to his beautiful wife, Amy who was tending to their brand new 2 week-old baby. As it turned out, Amy was also a native Wilmingtonian and they were just returning from Florida to begin their own transition to life as a family back in their hometown.
I’d say that Amy and I hit it off immediately and began lunching and shopping together, but the truth is she was exhausted with a newborn and I was in the throws of beginning my first year of service with Operation Christmas Child….so, it took a month or so for us to get together. I remember our first date…taking the kids to the park, then helping her unpack all those boxes, holding the new baby, sharing meals etc. Our husbands fell in love right away, our kids were great together and the more time we spent together, the more Amy and I realized we had in common…like having had close childhood friends who were sisters. I was friends with the elder, she was friends with the younger. We figure we had to have played together at some point, but we still can’t come up with a time we actually remember meeting. We grew up on the same side of our smallish town, went to the same places, knew the same people, but had never met…until then.
Over the course of 4 years, a couple more babies being born into our families, dozens o
evenings spent chasing kids at the beach, our children becoming the best of friends, Friday night double dates and mocha shakes, crying together, praying together and laughing SO SO much together, the Lord had given us a friendship we all needed for just that season in our lives. I could stop here and those 4 years would be enough to warrant a blog post worthy of your time, but that’s just not how God saw fit to continue this story.
As we began the process of preparing to move to Africa, the Meshaws cheered us on and watched as we raised support, sold stuff and packed to move. We reminded Michael frequently that there was a school right next to the hospital where we would be working in Kenya. Michael had always worked and was currently working in a Christian school so we were hoping he’d choose to work near us. He rolled his eyes and politely said, “No thanks. Not for me.” Amy, however, had lived in Uganda before and had always felt like she could end up back in Africa one day. Over the course of about a year, Michael’s curiosity got the best of him leading him to frequent RVA’s website, as well as looking into a few other mission schools in Africa (this looking into other schools is where we returned the eye rolling). During one of his surf sessions, he found that RVA had an opening in the Phys Ed department which was right up his alley. They needed someone to come in October, just 3 months after we would arrive. Our friends talked, prayed, debated, interviewed and eventually decided they felt the Lord was indeed leading them to step out in great faith and serve at RVA!! It was hard to contain the excitement at the idea that our dream was becoming a reality. As I write this out, I still can’t hardly believe it. I imagine our Lord in heaven just watching as the story unfolded, as it continues to unfold, smiling from holy ear to ear. Michael and Amy had 3 months to watch their support come in, sell their home, pack their bags and move to Africa…and they did it!
We were thrilled to drive to Nairobi just a few weeks ago and welcome them to Kenya. They’d safely arrived and they were here to stay. As I entered their room at the guesthouse, flying by Michael and nearly knocking Amy over to squeeze the living daylights out of her, the tears sprang up quickly to my eyes. It was one miraculously surreal moment that I will never forget. I just couldn’t help but audibly thank our Lord, our great provider, the Faithful one, the author of our stories that he has so graciously knit together.
Nairobi, Oct. 2015
Could we have made it on our own? Sure. Would we have had to? No. In another post I should write about how God chose to give us yet another family of friends as soon as we arrived in Kenya who are also serving at Kijabe Hospital. To use the term BFF would be accurate. There are just some people you know from the start that you will know and love forever. I will never know why God, in his great mercy, chose to bless us in this way, but I am grateful.
And just to add a little homemade (oh how I miss you Betty Crocker) icing to the cake, the Meshaws will arrive at Kijabe next Tuesday. It just so happens that is Nate and my newest bestie’s first day in the hospital. Amy arrives just in time for my first day of living without those two constantly by my side. Either God knows I cannot do life without encouragement and friendship or He’s just extra kind. I don’t know for sure, but my pride forces me say it’s the latter. What I do know for sure is this:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecc. 4:9-10
Falling is inevitable, but praise the Lord that by his great plan, He gives us bits of himself on earth as his hands to help us up when we need it.