Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Last Dance

Yesterday we hosted our annual (okay, semi annual) friends potluck. This gathering has happened at this time or that for too many years to count. It's always included a small circle of friends and it's always enjoyable.

I never actually plan what we'll eat because this crowd has never, ever let anyone go hungry. Last night menu included baked salmon, hamburgers, taco salad, creamy pasta and chicken, zesty pasta salad, ham roll-ups, baked beans, watermelon, fresh veggies, blackberry cobbler, snickerdoodles, brownies, chocolate chip bar cookies, ice cream, chocolate syrup, whip cream, and more fresh blackberries.

Let me just say that NO ONE went hungry.

The badminton net was up, the air-soft guns loaded, blankets spread, plates filled, as conversation and laughter filled the air.

Between dinner and dessert we asked the oldest kids young adults to share what they'd done over the summer and what they'd be doing this year.

Miss C went first. She shared about her mission trip to Asia. She told us about living with defectors from another country and hearing their stories. They learned about torture while they were there. They heard heart-wrenching stories and discovered that many from this culture still view Americans as the enemy; someone to be feared.

Miss C explained the need for support for the small, vibrant group of Christians and the need for human outreach in a country that is so oppressed by their leaders. You know the country, it's the one with nukes and an itchy trigger finger.

As she shared her heart, I couldn't help but be amazed at the young woman before me. She had always been so quiet, so reserved. College has changed her. Traveling outside the US has widened her worldview and she's growing into a fine woman of conviction.

This guy spent the past two years interning with Bible Teaching Inc. He's scrubbed toilets, led children on nature hikes, taught Bible studies, and learned that saying you love Jesus and actually living like you do are two separate things. Mr. J learned about the stress of being in charge, of dealing with difficult people, and how to organize and run a summer camp when you're short handed because half the staff is out sick.

He's spent time with YWAM and writing songs. He's investing time with a young boy with autism and reaching out to those in need. That's my boy!

Mr. K spent six weeks in Costa Rica, studying Spanish, working with the locals, and falling in love with a culture that is not his own. He saw first hand the poverty that enslaves that beautiful country, and yet they are so rich in many other ways.

He walked dangerous roads, stayed clear of gunfire, and developed a love for strong, black coffee. He came home with a strengthened conviction concerning overseas missions and heads out TODAY for Bible college up north.

I listened to Mr. K and smiled at his heartfelt speech. He has changed so much from the awkward youth into a man after God's own heart.

Mr. JL is the youngest of the young adults. He's wrapping up a few high school courses and beginning some college work. He honestly shared that he doesn't know what he wants to do or where he wants to go, but one thing was for certain, his character is strong.

He's a baseball player and the team on which he plays is a far cry from Christian. He tries to do what's right and people notice. His reputation proceeds him and that's a good thing. Mr. JL is becoming a man I know his mama is proud of (I could see it shining in her eyes).

This little dude only wanted to know when dessert was going to be served. All that chatter from the big kids was fine, but where were the cookies!

Later, as we mama's sat visiting, one lady said, "It occurred to me tonight that this might be the last time we have everyone here. They are all growing up and moving on. It makes me a little sad."

Heads nodded in agreement and a little vapor of saddness encircled us. But then another lady pointed out how very blessed we all are. We all have children who are strong believers who want to change the world. Our families are healthy. She looked around at each of us said, "We have been blessed with friendship."

And so we have.


Island Rider said...

In my circle of friends, we are all sending our last one off to college this year. We plan on having a get together in a few weeks to celebrate our empty nests and birdies who make good choices, but I am sure that there will be a few tears as well. Nice young people like these give me hope for our future.

TJ Brown said...

Awwww. That's just so ... Sweet. Tear.

Okay, you know that was all fake. But you know me... I'm probably the least sentemental friend you have:) It takes a lot to make me cry.

Glad you enjoyed yourself!

Charmaine said...

What a beautiful group. You are, indeed, lucky.

Recipes, puleez?