From Texas to France to Senegal to Miami to Belgium to South Carolina to Texas…. We have come full circle you might say. We left Texas 28 years ago to serve overseas and honestly at times it has felt as though I am living a vagabond lifestyle. It can be challenging to say the least. Besides the fact that I love what I do, I would not trade it. Why? Beloved Community…. All over the world.
“I think of you and ‘Titou’ (the name she gave our baby girl) often,” was the facebook friend request from a woman who was but a small child when we were in France. Beloved Community!
“Tata, please will you help me with my wedding?” asks my Senegalese niece in West Virginia. Beloved Community!
“Merry Christmas!” cry our dear Persian friends over skype. Beloved Community!
“You have no idea what a difference you made as you listened to me cry on the park bench all those years ago,” says a young Turkish woman now a mother of two over a cup of coffee on the Grand Place in Brussels. Beloved Community!
“Mum Nell, can I come stay the night?” asks an International student in Houston. Beloved Community!
“Please will you come to my wedding and stand in as my parents?” Beloved Community!
“Please let me help you move! I also have a Ph.D in moving!” Beloved Community!
“Sis, will you review this paper I wrote?” asks my dearest friend from Senegal as she worked on her undergrad degree. Beloved Community!
“We found you again! Mental hug!” is the Linkedin message from the three sisters in the Middle East. Beloved Community!
“If I am able to do this job, it is because of what you taught me at the center,” the tall young Senegalese man tells us. Beloved Community!
“You are my grandparents in faith. You led my parents and now I am a believer too.” Beloved Community!
“I am there. I am committed to following Christ.” Beloved Community!
“You are not friends; you are family,” declares the Imam. Beloved Community!
“How are you? I am missing you all the time,” reads the text from our young friend from the Middle East. Beloved Community!
“You were our hospital. Because of the care you gave our children they are now studying in Europe. But you gave what a hospital could not….love!” shares an employee of one of the centers we directed. Beloved Community!
I am Sis, Tata, Mum Nell, Mama Nell, Pastor Nell, Nurse Nell; all of this because of the beloved community I have been privileged to be a part of. I could go on and on, but that is only part of the story!
“I do not have any children or grandchildren. May I have yours?” was the request of the woman who became grandmother in every way. Beloved Community!
“We would not miss being here for you!” says mother and son as they flew into Miami to be with us at the memorial service of this dear adopted grandmother. Beloved Community!
“May I go visit Uncle Jonathan and Aunt Tina (fellow missionaries) for my graduation gift?” was our daughter’s request upon her high school graduation. Beloved Community!
“We are here for you. Just tell us what you need!” pledges a church. Beloved Community!
“I think of them as my little brother and sister,” declares more than one of the young people who have worked alongside us. Beloved Community!
“Yay! You’re back!” says the church member upon our return. Beloved Community!
“I pray for you every day!” the strange woman tells me at General Assembly. Beloved Community!
“Just come home and let us take care of you!” a pastor tells me as I am in distress over a very difficult situation.Beloved Community!
“I think I just heard someone else come on! Any updates?” is the typical beginning conversation of the Tuesday morning conference prayer call. Beloved Community!
“Come to the lake house and chill for a while,” a couple invites. Beloved Community!
What I want the readers of this article to know is that as field personnel neither of these communities is possible without the other. Thank you for making this vagabond life so beautiful and fulfilling, my dear beloved community.