Sweet Reunion

I'll never forget meeting her at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary the first day of orientation in January 2005. We were grouped together by degrees, so all of the missions majors were placed together. There were only a handful of us, so we quickly introduced ourselves and found out where everyone had been and what our plans (assuming they were God's plans as well!) were for the future. I was there to pursue a Master of Divinity with a specialization in People Group Strategies. Just typing that wears me out - it was a long 95-hour degree that would prepare me for international missions. She told us she had come to take 20 hours (the International Mission Board requirement) and head overseas as quickly as possible. I remember thinking, "Wow, this girl has it together and knows what she's headed for!" You see, part of the reason I had chosen such a long degree was so I'd have time - time to recover a little from the 2 previous years I'd spent in South Africa, and time to figure out what in the world God wanted me to do next. Not Leah, though. She knew!

Meet my precious friend, Leah Brown.

There are some people I meet and immediately feel a connection to. Leah is one of those people. I knew right after meeting her that I wanted to get to know her. Our first semester in seminary we saw each other around, but really didn't hang out or spend much time together. And then Hurricane Katrina happened...

I'll spare you all of the gory details from that year away from New Orleans, but fast forward to August 2006. I returned to New Orleans literally kicking and screaming. To say I didn't want to be there is an understatement. I really wasn't sure if any of my friends were returning, so when I saw Leah on campus soon after moving back, I felt so relieved. Like I said earlier, we really weren't friends the first semester, but just seeing the familiar face of someone I thought with whom there might be a potential friendship was comforting.

We started hanging out some and she introduced me to her roommates. One of those would end up being in our wedding in 2008 (although I was clueless of that at the time!). Since I was living in temporary housing while the dorm was still under construction, Leah and her roommates were gracious enough to let me hang out at their apartment some. What a blessing they were!

Both Leah and I were in need of an accountability partner, so we began meeting together weekly. We would ask each other the tough questions - how is your prayer life? how much time are you spending in the Word? what sins are you struggling with? We always ended our time praying for one another. Even though it was a hard part of my week (because I knew I had to be honest with myself and her!), I wouldn't trade those Monday meetings for anything! We met faithfully for 2 years.

2 years? No, it doesn't take 2 years to complete 20 hours of seminary classes. Just as I (or should I say, the LORD) changed my plans and I completed a much shorter degree called a Master of Arts in Missiology, Leah also had a change in plans and decided to complete an entire degree (the same one as me) rather than just 20 hours. So, we began on the same day in 2005 and then walked across the stage to receive our diplomas on the same day in 2008. (still can't believe we didn't get a picture together at graduation!)

As we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel (i.e. graduation), we spent many a Monday talking about and praying for what was next for Leah. She knew she was supposed to go overseas, but really had no clue where the Lord wanted her to serve. Through time, counsel from others, and LOTS of prayer, God revealed she was to go to South America and serve in Peru and Bolivia.

Here we are at her going away party in July 2008

So she left for South America in October 2008. I was SO excited for her, yet knew I was going to miss our sweet times together so much! And I did! Thankfully, God provided some other Godly women for me to meet with and hold me accountable.

A year later Leah returned for a short vacation. Riley was 2 months old, and I loved getting to introduce him to Leah! I didn't realize it, but apparently my son began loving my sweet friend then!

When I found out last year that Leah was coming home in May for her Stateside Assignment, I knew I wanted First Baptist Hughes Springs to be on her list of churches to speak to. Not only did I want to spend a weekend with her and show her where we live, but I wanted our church members to hear her because she spent the last 3.5 years working with the same people group our church is currently working with in Peru (the Quechua). Also, when she returns to the mission field in January, she will be going to Peru!

How exciting it was to see her pull into our driveway this past Friday night! We had such a good time catching up over the past 2 days. Of course, as it always does, the time went by way too quickly, but I am thankful she was even able to come! The kiddos adore her - especially a little 3-year-old boy named Riley. I'm pretty sure he experienced his first crush this weekend. :)

On Saturday Leah went for a run, and when she left the house Riley started crying. I asked him what was wrong and he said, "I don't want her to leave! I love her!" Once I explained to him that she was coming back after her run he was okay. Oh the emotions of the little guy!


Saying goodbye...

It may be several more years before we see Leah again on this continent, but we're hoping and praying it will work out for us to see her sometime while we're in Peru. Until then, though, it will be Skype, Facebook and email. :) We love you, Leah, and we're SO thankful you were able to spend the weekend with us! We're praying for you! In fact, Riley prayed for you tonight before bed...

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