God planted me there for just shy of two and a half years, but those nearly 850 days seemed like a lifetime — an experience I never wanted to end.
I remember grieving terribly the weeks leading up to and following my departure in December 1995. And tears flowed again recently when I had opportunity to return.
God called me to the missions field after college graduation in 1993. Uniquely enough, I was assigned to work with the Caribbean but stationed in Hollywood, Fla., at the Caribbean Media Centre, working with Caribbean Christian Publications.
Along with the countless opportunities assisting CCP editors and working in the field in Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, I also discovered missionary families and a set of friends in Hollywood who would impact my life forever.
One particular missionary family welcomed me as one of its own and to this day is part of my daily existence. The friends came mainly from two groups — three other transplants like me serving on the missions field in the same area and an entire college and career department at Sheridan Hills Baptist Church.
Of the 12 to 15 core members of the 50-plus-member group, I have managed to keep up with most of them to some degree, especially the one I brought home with me and later married, Jason Rash. Some of us email, talk and even see each other frequently. Some of us rarely communicate, but Facebook — as well as our friend Michele 🙂 — has helped us stay updated on each other.
What I didn’t realize until I returned for the 50th anniversary celebration of Sheridan Hills (April 19–22) was just how deeply I miss this group of friends. And what I had almost forgotten was the depth and richness I experienced in my spiritual journey during those years in Hollywood.
Not everyone from our group could attend but for the ones of us who were there, being back together in our original environment felt right. And despite the fact it had been more than 17 years since we stood in those church halls together or stuffed ourselves at Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlour together, we picked right back up.
To get a hug, to catch up, to share fun memories, to laugh, to cry, to just be together — it was good for the soul.
For a few hours, we were “home” and reminded that “We Are One in the Bond of Love” no matter how many miles span between us.