I sat down to write a blog post tonight. It’s been a while…I had a pinched sciatic nerve this past week & sitting at a computer was killer. So the plan was to catch up tonight on some postings. But then an interruption happened. A beautiful interruption. A friend called. Well, tried to call. She lives in Haiti and the internet isn’t so hot there. I had out two different iPhones and an iPad trying to connect with her via Skype, WhatsApp, texting, calling…in the end we were able to text & did so for an hour.
She was one of the most beautiful interruptions I could have asked for tonight. An old friend. Getting off the phone with her I sat back down to write…but, all I could think about was Erika. So, this is an insight into my dear old friend.
In a film, there are scenes called a “meet cute”. This is were the main characters are introduced in a comical or unusual setting and their relationship builds from there, think of any romantic comedy you have seen…and I promise you can find the “meet cute”.
Our “meet cute” was in a Draper Hall at Baylor University. We sat next to each other in an International Political Systems class. I knew who she was, but hadn’t really talked to her before. Another girl named Kassie sat with us too. We kinda had to band together because the three of us went to a particular church that our professor hated. She actually had you raise your hand if you went to this church so people could move away from you if they wanted. But don’t worry, we won her over in the end. We all got A’s…well Erika got a B actually. Although we have no idea why because her test scores were higher…anyway… After class we all had a long break before our next classes began. So the three of us went to a coffee shop called Common Grounds and continued our heated & passionate conversations about politics, global crisis and the role of the Church in such issues. We did this twice a week for a whole semester. Sometimes Jady would pop in if he got out of class early and join in on whatever the topic of the day was.
Jady & I had been married a year & were looking to move closer to Baylor. We found an awesome house that was 5 bedrooms but we couldn’t afford it. One winter day while us girls were having our bi-weekly coffee/ world-changing brainstorm sessions, Jady crashed our political debate to ask me a question about the house. Somehow the joke came up that Erika & Kassie should live with us there. Ha ha ha…hehe…And then we actually did it.
Erika then became our housemate. I can’t even begin to recall all the humerous things that happened during the year Erika & Kassie lived with us. They included Erika & Jady fighting over chores in the living room until 1am… And me sitting there wondering why in the world we ever thought this was a good idea. It was a very poverty stricken area and there were some shady dealings going on. One night in particular some guys came banging on the door when Jady & I were out. Upon our arrival home Jady sat us three girls down and gave us a lesson on exactly where his rifle was in the house, how to load it and when to shoot. I am absolutely NOT kidding. Later that year, Jady was sitting on the couch holding that very same rifle as Erika’s date came to pick her up. He gave the guy a talking to about what time she needed to be home & how he was to treat her. Not sure if she thought it was as funny as Jady did.
We had this dog named Buddy, he was crazy. Seriously. But Erika would seem to ignore this fact and carry him around on her hip while he peered over her shoulder…That year Jady & I decided to move to Seattle & plant a church. We asked Erika to come along. I’ll never forget the night I came home and found a picture on my bed. It was a picture of Erika holding a sign that said “I’m in.”
The following year we loaded up what little belongings we had & moved with a team of 7 people to Seattle with dreams that would blow you away. A dream and a prayer really. Crazy things happened. Erika & I threw benefits for justice, started a lifegroup, we would get together and cry over the things that were hard in our lives. I sat next to Erika when she stood up on a bus in Seattle to tell people that she loved Jesus & would like to pray for whoever needed it. I also sat next to Erika on a bus in Seattle when the man standing in front of us pooped his pants right before our eyes. Buses in Seattle are interesting places.
Erika and I have dreamed huge dreams together. Moved mountains together. We got completely dominated by a wave on a beach in Lebanon together, she slept on a cot at the foot of my bed in England, I coaxed her out of hiding when she got a horrific haircut that included a mullet and a rat-tail. She gathered money for Jady and I to go on a vacation to Portland for a few days when we couldn’t afford to get away. Erika was in the room when I was in labor with Sophie. We threw a womens conference together, argued over the color of an airport wall in Amsterdam, stalked Condoleezza Rice from President Bush’s ranch to a grocery store. (but don’t worry we both wore oversized sunglasses, so I’m sure the Secret Service didn’t know it was us) I have eaten her sugar-free pumpkin pies & she has eaten soup from a salad plate at my house.
Now she lives in Haiti facilitating the rebuilding of a community devastated by the earthquake. Here I am on the opposite side of the continent in San Diego. Our dreams for Seattle now stand in the shape of a growing & thriving church called Mosaic. We still have regular conversations about politics, global issues and the role that the Church plays.
I can’t count the painful gut aching laughs we have had and the broken tears we have cried together. And we aren’t even 30 yet. Can’t wait to see what happens ahead with our lives. She is a beautiful, courageous, fierce (Erika, I know you will appreciate my usage of this word) woman and she loves Jesus with a perspective I hope to have someday.
I think we can forget the importance of friends sometimes. But, they are one of life’s greatest gifts. Erika is one of God’s greatest gifts to me. She is truly the Greatest Munchkin That Ever Lived.