Ken and Andrea Pitcher have been with us here in Czech since the beginning, and were with us in Germany as well, thus we've shared 20 years of life. So saying good-bye to them means the end of a long chapter that we've shared together...not just in ministry but in all of life.
It was wonderful to be at spring conference this year since Caleb and I missed it last year. That was the second time in 15 years that I've missed a conference due to being in the States with kids for health reasons...missed one with Claire back in 2001 too!
I know many of you reading this haven't been to one of our conferences, and that it's probably a little hard to envision what they're like. The best way I can describe them is to say it's like a family reunion...with 180 family members there! You don't always know everyone super personally, as can be true at a large family reunion, but you feel this kindred-ness and connection because you're family.
That's how it is for us when we come to a JV conference! There is something so wonderful about sharing a week together in the Word, in worship, around a cup of coffee...ahh, love that!
This year's conference was sweet and sad. I don't want to use the word bittersweet because there was nothing bitter about it...just sad. We had a lot of good-byes to say to people we love, but two in particular stand out because of their connection to our family.
Lots of shared birthday parties, meals together, holidays celebrated, trips, passing in the grocery store, seeing each other at school and church events, etc...a lot of life together! We will miss them as they head back to the States. (Couldn't find the photo of their family that I wanted so put in one from the early days of JV...that was our team in about 1996 or '97! Ken and Andrea are on the far right.)
Becca McMartin came to us back in 2001, just after Claire and I were in the States the first time seeking medical answers to her mysterious health problems. Becca came in the nick of time...staying with the boys for a month even though she barely knew us, while Claire, Dave and I were at Stanford Children's Hospital getting Claire cared for. Those summer months turned into 8 years of her living life here! She eventually developed our JVKid ministry and has given her heart and life to all of us in JV. How we will miss her as well. (Picture is from the early days when Becca came!)
It's hard that life is full of good-byes...we all wish life could just go on the way it always has. But the reality is...good-byes won't stop until heaven. There are many reasons to look forward to heaven, but this is definitely one of the top ones! I think we'll see each other again through the years, but one day we'll have all of eternity to spend together...it's a comforting thought.