Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Significant Mentors

There are some people who come into my life for a season, and I am blessed and forever changed by my encounters with them. And even when our paths take us in different directions, whether to different cities, states, or countries, I get this feeling that we will meet again in this life, to bless each other again. For me, some of these people are Lou and Kendra.

There was a time in my life, from about 2005-2010, that I called "The In-Between Years." I was out of college and had no idea what the next big step was going to be. Little did I know what God would do with that time!

My summer of casually hanging out with the teenagers from my home church developed into a full-time leadership role, and Kendra (who was a full-time youth pastor at another local church) became a mentor and friend, and included me in a community of youth ministers who prayed together and collaborated to reach out to the youth in our city. She also took me to a huge youth leaders convention in Charlotte where I heard incredible speakers like Shane Claiborne and Phil Vischer. Her wisdom and experience, and her patience with me and my insecurities and immaturity, was very significant to my growth as a servant leader.

Lou helped me get my first job out of college, tutoring students at a private school where he worked. As that job progressed into a ground-breaking ESL program, Lou offered his educational insight and experience to teach me about program development and personalized care for ESL students. Kendra and Lou encouraged me in the persuit of my Masters of Art in TESOL, too.

Kendra and Lou also had (and still have) a passion for adoption. I got to witness the whole exciting process of their first domestic adoption, remember the exciting insanity when they got the call about a baby that was about to be born, that could be theirs, and getting little Eleni in less than a month after they were approved as adoptive parents. Seeing their joy and commitment to her enhanced my own desire to adopt, and made me more aware of the children in my own country who need a family.

This dear couple moved five years ago to Lou's home country, Cyprus. They built a house with a fully wheelchair accessible apartment, and told me I must come to visit one day. Lou teaches GSL - Greek as a Second Language, and he and Kendra do "organic ministry" from their home and in their neighborhood. They have a biological little girl now, and another on the way, and they said that they still plan to adopt another older child when their girls have grown a bit. We stay in touch through Facebook, but I have missed them so much since they moved.

They are in my hometown this month, and today, they came to visit! The two hours we had together flew by in a flurry of stories and laughter. They are just as I remember them - so full of life and love. I'm so thankful for the years we shared, and the valuable lessons I learned from them. It's amazing to realize how much the sacrifice of time and energy can affect another person's life; it's amazing to realize how much Lou and Kendra's discipleship and investment in me has impacted who I am today. Thank you, my friends! Ευχαριστώ!