I first met Carley (in red) in 2005, when she came to HOPAC to teach kindergarten. I helped her label books and gave her tips since I had just finished teaching kindergarten. Later that first week, I hugged her as she cried at recess time over one
Lauren (in gray) and her husband Ben arrived in 2008, both to teach at HOPAC. They came with our mission, so Gil and I were in charge of their orientation. They quickly became a part of our family. I remember crying with Lauren that first year, in the principal's office, trying to convince him to allow us to plan a graduation ceremony for the seniors (which was totally inconceivable in British culture). Now Lauren's husband is the principal and lets us do whatever we want. Ha.
Two years ago, our journey to bring home Lily started Lauren and Ben on their own journey to bring home a little girl. It's still not over, and I have shed many tears with Lauren in her anguish.
Girls bond over tears, don't they?
Lauren and Carley were in our home every single Friday night for many years of youth group. We've eaten countless meals together; celebrated numerous holidays together. We've planned and organized and talked and conspired together over ideas on how to make HOPAC better and more wonderful. We've celebrated and agonized over students.
And though both of them will be here when we get back, it won't be the same. We'll still be friends but we won't be co-workers. I won't see them every day and I won't get to plan stuff with them.
Both are incredible examples of perseverance and steadfastness in the face of despair, loneliness, and heartache. Both love Jesus more than they love life.
At the graduation dinner, one of our students sang this song from the musical Wicked...."Because I knew you, I've been changed for good."
That's you, Carley and Lauren.