Thursday, May 5, 2016

Access Denied

The meeting at Lloyd's was around the end of April 2006 and the Sudanese tour was scheduled to end sometime mid-end of May 2006. Our four new friends, Jeffreys, Stephen, Bullen and Andrew, would be returning home within a couple of weeks. Our family conversations were constantly about our new friends.

Left to Right: Bullen, unknown, Andrew
Standing: Jeffreys

SEM and I decided that we wanted to see Bullen Timo one more time before he returned to South Sudan.  I called the sponsoring ministry to inquire about the location of the last few speaking engagements for the Sudansese.  SEM and I were going to travel to that location and just speak to, see and hug Bullen one more time!  I continued to leave message after message at their office with no response (of course, they were on the road).  Every afternoon SEM would come home from school and ask if I had gotten any information of BUllen's location.  Days later, the director's assistant returned my call and I didn't hear the words that I wanted to hear.  The Sudanese's schedule was too busy and they were moving in many different directions, therefore the ministry would not allow us a time to visit.  A little sadness, but not heartbroken, we understood that God was in control and this wasn't about us.

I encouraged SEM to send an email to his new friend and maybe just maybe he would respond before departing.  Bullen did respond to the email with kind words of encouragement but no place to see him again. 

Bullen and Andrew in New Orleans
Seeing God's Creation of the Ocean

Their time in the USA gave them the opportunity to speak at 35+ churches as well as other events. They met so many people throughout the States (Bullen can remember all of them and every single place he visited in detail). Have I told you that he has an unbelievable memory and his sense of direction is amazing?

God placed this young man in our hearts and minds and unbeknownst to us, our family.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Talk

On Sunday morning, David Platt introduced the four internationals to the congregation and each one shared their story.  The stories were a little unbelievable, a little sad, and very heart grabbing.  I just loved their British English accent and the way they presented their faith in Jesus.

For those of us who wanted to hear more, there would be one more event at Lloyds Restaurant on Highway 280 during the evening.  These men traveled more than 6000 miles in hopes of helping people in their homeland with food and shelter.  During this evening, we learned even more about the starvation and war torn villages of South Sudan.

A friend of mine, Lori, and I had made handkerchiefs for these men with their initials on them.  Don't ask me where that came from because I have no idea.  Each one accepted their gift with graciousness and were so humble in spirit.  Our youngest son, SEM, and I made an instant connection with the youngest young man, whose name was Bullen Timo. We spoke to him after the meeting and then got in line to talk with him again and again.  We stayed way past our welcome, as the missionaries from TN who were traveling with them were ready for everyone to be gone.  Our church raised 10's of thousands of dollars for these families across the globe.  We said our goodbyes with hugs and comments of "see you in heaven one day".

Wow - our paths had crossed for such a short period of time (about 6 hours: 3 hours for dinner at Dreamland; 1 hour in church service; 2 hours at dinner and visit at Lloyds), 360 Minutes.  This will be very significant as this story unfolds..........

SIDENOTE:  A couple of things about this time that I now know 10 yrs later.  Bullen, in the process of traveling, carrying luggage, sleeping on a mattress, etc, had pulled his back out.  He was in extensive pain every time he moved.  He hurt when he stood, moved or lay down, but he was required by the director to get up and get sharing.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A new time A new place

Today.......A new month -- a new week -- a new normal -- a new time -- a new place -- an empty nest.

The feelings,  the empty chair at dinner,  the happiness,  the thankfulness,  the empty bedroom,  the unknown,  the letting go,  the goodbyes,  the love we shared,  the time together, and I could go on and on and on.

Exactly 10 years ago last week, our family met a young man from the other side of the world who would change our lives forever, but we had no idea.  We simply accepted an offer to host four international men for dinner.  On this night, we decided to take them to Dreamland BBQ and its was a hit.  After dinner it was back to our house for a little more fun and fellowship, which included many questions about their life and playing drums with our youngest son.

An early night was closed with hugs and hand-shakes and we knew we would hear them speak at our church on the coming Sunday

to be continued..........