Our oldest has left the nest and is learning to fly as she begins her first year at Taylor University. She is attending the university that I went to so that is quite exciting. Since Taylor is located in Indiana and she is a girl with a lot of stuff, we loaded the car and took off for a nineteen hour long journey. We arrived five days early because she received a cultural diversity scholarship which is part of the international student program. I was invited to be part of the program and it was an amazing time. I would like to share with you some of the emotions I experienced while walking around the campus. It took me back to my initial days of arriving on the same campus thirty years ago. For me it was not quite like Anna’s arrival because three months before I started college, my mother passed away in her sleep because of an aneurysm. She died at a young age and left behind eight wonderful children and a broken hearted husband. I felt weak and quite vulnerable during this time. One night I was crying in my room because I really missed my mom and was having a hard time being away from home and in walked my roommate. She said, “Why are you crying?”

I said, “I haven’t told you but my mom died right before I came to school and I miss her.”

She said, “What if you would have lost a limb?”

I said, “I would give all my limbs to have my mother back.”

She opened the door without any response and walked out.

It took a long time for me to open up to someone again, but eventually, I found people I could trust, and then as I shared with them, healing began. I made some amazing friends who respected God and knew Jesus in a very real way. Thus my journey in trying to follow in the steps of Jesus began.

So now, here I am back in the dorm on the campus where I once lived and I wondered how everything would work out for Anna. The first night we had a big dinner with all of the international students, along with some faculty and the university president and his wife. This is the amazing part. An adorable, dark wavy-haired girl sat down right next to Anna and we asked where she was from and she said Palestine. She looks so much like many of Anna’s friends back in Lebanon. Then she went on to describe her family and it ends up we work with her father and second cousin closely in Bethlehem! She and Anna had an instant connection. Then to my right the president and his wife started telling me that they have been to Lebanon several times and they were good friends with Lucien Accad, the president of the Bible Society. I went on to tell them that we were good friends with him and his whole family. Sadly, Lucien just passed away. He truly was a man who loved God and challenged people to get to know Jesus. Later I found out that the Palestinian girl had lost her mom ten years ago. I told her I was so sorry and my heart felt her pain. She asked if she could call me “auntie.” I was honored. I say all this because God is a God of redemption. He takes pain and turns it around for good. God never said life would be easy. He just said it would be worth it. These moments on the campus helped me to see a big dose of God’s kindness. It was difficult to leave Anna behind but I know she is in the right place and I am excited for her.