Sometimes you have friends you feel at home with the second you meet them. You shake hands, and turn that corner into a forever kind of friendship that you somehow just know will stand the test of distance and time and hardship. I don't know how it happened, or why, but the second Brian reached out to shake my hand, I knew that's what we'd be.
|First night we met. I don't know why we thought it would be awesome to curl his hair.|
It was June 2004. We were both 19 years old. He was the counselor for Elijah's Cave. I was in Ruth's Field. The first night after we met, I curled his hair with a curling iron in the dining hall at camp. After that I just have this whirlwind of incredible memories with Brian and my other dear friends. I can't even begin to express how family-like a group of ten people can become after nine and a half weeks together. When it's just you against 70+ campers every week, the bond grows even stronger. You see each other at your best...and at your worst. And you love each other through it all.
|Counselors and junior counselors hanging out on a weekend. A, S, Brian, me, and C.|
Brian and I laughed together. A lot. One week Brian acquired a pink pony (like an off-brand My Little Pony) as his cabin mascot. I paid off one of his campers to steal it for me, and, for the rest of the week, my girls (hi, girlies!) and I sent ransom letters for the pony. Somehow or another, Brian would sneak back into my cabin and take the pony back, but at the end of the summer, I ended up with it. On our last night, I humbly returned the pony to her rightful owner...Brian smiled and shook his head. And when I got back home the next day, I found the pony as I unpacked my suitcases.
|One of the nights we all watched the stars together. Me, S, Brian, K, and M.|
On our last night at camp that summer, Brian and I counted shooting stars together until the sun came up. We talked about everything...our love for working with kids and teens, our problem campers, what our plans were for the coming year, our dreams for the future. Everything. This is my most treasured memory with him. I think it was one of his favorite memories with me, too, because he later wrote me a letter about how he'd never forget that time counting stars and our conversation.
|After caving. Brian and I had a pretty wicked mud fight.|
Brian and I worked at camp for two summers together. In between seeing each other we'd write letters back and forth. But as time passed, the letters got slower, and our lives got busier. Each time we'd get back together again, it was as though no time had passed, though. When you have that forever kind of friendship, time and distance don't make a whole lot of difference...
|Me and Brian on the 4th of July.|
Of course our lives changed, though. As the years passed, we both graduated from college. I got married. Brian moved to Afghanistan for a season. We kept in touch through facebook, occasionally sending messages back and forth just to say hi.
While in Afghanistan, Brian did a lot of photography and videography. He loved the people there, and his pictures and life prove it. Brian especially had a heart for kids, and his pictures of the children he knew are breathtaking.
|Not sure why Brian felt like my face had to be censored here...M, R, S, me, and Brian.|
On August 5, 2010, Brian was doing some work with a humanitarian aid organization in Afghanistan. His group was attacked and many of them died, including Brian.
Today marks one year since Brian left us here. I still think about him every day, and I hope that never changes. He left an indelible mark on the earth for Christ and things that matter, and I hope we can all say that when we finally walk into the arms of our Savior.
You might think it's a little odd that I would choose to tell you about Brian today when I've been talking about Compassion International all week. But it all ties together, and it's not at all a coincidence.
In September 2010 I began looking for another "longest waiting" child to sponsor. One little boy's picture reached out and grabbed me. I clicked on him, and that's where God's extraordinary attention to detail totally blew my mind. The little boy's name, both first and middle names, matched my dear friend Brian's name. His birthday was in June 2004, when Brian and I met. I knew this was an opportunity I could not pass up. So I became my little Brian's sponsor.
Today not only marks one year since my dear friend Brian left this earth.
Today is the day I will be meeting my little Brian for the first time.
I did not set this trip up, and I had no choice in how the scheduled itinerary would work. It is truly the work of the Lord. This little boy has been instrumental in how I'm managing the grief process after my friend Brian's death. I am in awe of God's kindness and how He has chosen to minister to my heart as I mourn.
Yes, I am taking lots of pictures.
Please be praying for me and for my little boy, Brian, today. I know it's silly, but I'm really nervous about meeting him! Please pray that our connection will be immediate and permanent, the way my friendship with my friend Brian started seven years ago. Also, please pray comfort and peace over the family and many friends of my friend Brian who will be feeling a more acute sense of loss today.