Imagine the music from that ride at Disney World begins to play (but don't picture the creepy little figures on the ride jerkily dancing about -- that'll give you nightmares. . . but I digress. . . ). Josh and I were pondering some of the connections we've made when meeting people here at the Seminary. I know I'll forget someone and some connection, but in case this sort of thing is of interest to you, here you have it. ***Edit: I meant to add that these connections are ironic since I did not grow up Southern Baptist, and here we are at a Southern Baptist Seminary!***
From our former church, Calvary in Danville, we were told to look out for friends from my high school youth group: Cassie Paddock and Jaimie Zaijek. I bump into Cassie all the time, and we enjoy a laugh over deep theological issues like the policies at the Covington pool, etc. I don't see Jaimie very often, but Josh had a class with her husband last semester, and the few times I have seen Jaimie and her cute little girl have been a delight!
From Maranatha, where we both spent our college days, we met up with Kevin McFadden last fall when we came to visit the school. Kevin told us that his roommate, Jason Erb (one Shooter to Carey!) was also a student, and was getting ready to get married. Who would he marry? My dear friend Andrea Nash! I had lost touch with her after college, but now we both take the same SWI class, and I really had this unbelievable deja vu thing the other night during class as we whispered something admiring about our professor. I am so thrilled to have Andrea back in my life. We go to church with Andrea, Jason and Kevin at Clifton Baptist.
Speaking of Clifton, the first night we visited (which was a Wednesday), the preaching pastor Tom Schreiner gave a greeting to Josh Waltz. He said he was glad to see him back visiting. I nudged Josh "I think I know him!" I hissed. When the service was over, my suspicions were confirmed. It was indeed the Josh Waltz I knew from MBBC, who was actually "Mr. Waltz" to me -- he was my English Composition instructor my freshman year. Side note: check out his blog, Waltzian Heresies. I guess it makes sense that a comp instructor ought to be a good writer!
One night after church, we were getting to know the couple sitting behind us, Tim and Jamie Gray. Josh said he was from northern Ohio (which is usually when people say "near Cedar Point? Cool!" and leave it at that, because there really isn't much else to know about northern Ohio!). Tim and Jamie said "where?!" They are also from northern Ohio and it turns out that the pastor's wife at Calvary in Tiffin (Josh's church where he grew up) was Jamie's volleyball coach and small group mentor in high school. The word I'd use to describe Tim and Jamie is faithful. Tim has multiple medical problems, but the richness of their communion with God is evident to the rest of the church body.
One morning during Sunday school I whispered to Josh "let's invite those new people to go out to eat with us". The new people were Jeremy and Rachel Kimble who just moved to L-ville from Wisconsin. We shortly discovered that our connection would not be Wisconsin, but Ohio. Jeremy had just finished up his M-div at the same school where our brother-in-law Lukas is a student. Josh asked "do you know Lukas Hafeli?" and in fact, Jeremy was the T.A. in a class Lukas was taking right then! Incredible.
Josh had gotten to know these super nice guys in our hallway, Kevin and Will. They have Greek together (2 semesters in a row), and we see them at Clifton pretty often as well. When Josh introduced me to them, he said "Will just came back from Kazakhstan -- he knows the Konings!" I don't know about you, but Kazakhstan is not the country you hear most about, so it was ironic no matter what that Will had been in Kazakhstan, but even more incredible that he knew the dear Konings, who have been missionary friends I've known since high school (I remember their oldest son as a baby). We'd just seen Otto a few days before we moved to L-ville because he was in the states recruiting at Urbana and then speaking at Calvary's mission conference. Amazingly enough, Will and Kevin were not familiar with the Pineapple Story, written by Otto Koning Sr. I am planning to have storytime with them in the future, after I get my book out of storage.
Is it a small world? In a sense, no. It is very big and diverse and only God knows all the people. But in another sense, the whole Christian community is just separated by a few degrees, and it should be that way. People who have ties to some of the people you knew here, ministered with there, prayed for during this, are people who have continued in the Christian faith. They have not fallen away. Connections like these should be cause for us not to consider ourselves in pride ("Well, I've been around,") but to humbly thank the Lord for His grace in our perseverance.