But this wasn't just a gathering for fun, though of course we had fun! It had special meaning.
It was a bridal shower for a precious young woman that I've known for 22 years.
Meet Emily, daughter of Jim and Lina who we served with in Germany back in our Malachi Ministries days in the early 90's. I first met Emily when she was only a few months old, as her parents and we led a youth group on a military base in Heidelberg together.
But our lives were not only connected there. Fifteen months after we moved to the Czech Republic, she and her family moved to Czech as well and joined our team, back in 1995.
Emily was Claire's first playmate and best friend during those years they lived in Czech!
Her family moved back to the States in 2000 and served at the headquarters of a mission organization, while also becoming very involved in their local church. At 16, her dad took her on a church mission's trip to Bangladesh. There, she began to fall in love with the people and culture, returning many times over the years.
But something remarkable happened on that first trip. She met a young man. And that is the man she is marrying six years later!
She's been in Bangladesh this year, teaching at an international school and will be married there this coming March.
Emily's parents are back with JV now, serving in Leipzig, Germany so she was able to come for Christmas with them, and then to Poland to spend an afternoon with us!
We had the joy of hearing her story, asking questions, seeing photos and hearing what life is like in Bangladesh.
I also had the privilege, as one of her long-time "aunties", to give the devotional, talking about the ingredients to a marriage of love.
Oh the sweetness of listening to her mom pray afterward as we gathered around this dear one we've all known for so many years.
Susan, Laura and Heidi were all on the JV team (and still are!) back in the years Emily's family lived in Czech, so it just seemed so right and precious to celebrate her upcoming marriage since we have known her most of her life.
Laura, one of the best hostesses I know (!), brought out a little bubbly for us to toast Emily with after we'd prayed for her.
Well, a bottle of children's peach flavored sparkling bubbly that is!
And a beautiful lunch as well. Thank you Laura for such wonderful food and atmosphere today!
One of the things that was always true about Emily was her sparkling eyes and happy nature. How fun to see that trait in her as a mature young woman now! She loves the Lord, is grounded in her faith, has such a gentle spirit and is a joy to be around. As one of her adopted aunts, I couldn't be more proud of the way she is living her life and loving those around her, and it was truly a joy to hear of her love for her fiancé, her adopted country, and its people.
We lingered all afternoon, soaking in the sweet time together with Emily and each other. On a day like this you can't help but feel SO thankful for long and precious friendships that transcend time and distance.
"Emily, we love you and bless you as you head towards marriage with this wonderful man! May your lives be filled with the depths of God's love, and may you spend a lifetime learning how to love each other as He loves you!"
|Thank you Claire for your photos that captured our day with these beautiful women!
Be sure to go HERE to see Claire's blog about today, complete with long-ago pictures of she and Emily!