My sister Jennifer and I married our husbands in the summer of 1997, with just two weeks between her wedding and mine. Our husbands were both seminary students at the same school and both worked in the same plastics factory on the same shift to make ends meet while completing their studies. Eventually we two couples even lived in the same house, with Pedro and I in a third-floor apartment and my sister and brother-in-law in a duplex apartment below.
Many great memories were made during those early days as a newly formed extended family together, and it was with much sadness that we parted ways when Jenn and Mark headed to Chile for their seminary internship and we eventually made our way to Michigan. At that time our future ministry was unclear and it seemed we might never share the closeness we had once enjoyed.
Growing up on the mission field resulted in a sporadic relationship with my own aunts and uncles and cousins. I looked forward to reconnecting on furloughs but it was always a bit awkward to try and break into the life that they had which did not normally include us. A highlight of my teenage years was having one cousin in particular spend a year in Chile with us; though we fought like cats and dogs, it was my closest experience to having an older brother and to this day our family laughs about the adventures (and misadventures!) that year held for all of us.
Because of all this I do not take for granted the fact that God saw fit to allow my sister and brother-in-law and Pedro and me and all of our children to experience life in Chile together, even if it is only a couple times a year. Every time we get together I am reminded that we are more than family ... we are friends. It is even more special to witness the relationships being formed between our children, these nine crazy cousins who laugh and play and fight and make up and hug and kiss and stand up for one another. I hope their friendship never changes!
Sometimes God sees fit to bless us "above and beyond" what we deserve. Sharing life and ministry with our family is truly one of those blessings!
Postscript: This entry wouldn't be complete without acknowledging our other cousins, the Fisher boys (and sweet Sophia, soon to arrive from Taiwan.) There isn't a time we get together when we don't wish that they could be part of the fun as well. In fact, we are counting down the months to 2012 when, Lord willing, we will finally all be reunited for awhile! We love you, Terri and Dave and family! :)