(*A Note to Jennifer...I know this is some of what I wrote you but it inspired me!*)
I can't believe it has almost been a year!! It's all I seem to think about this month...My mind keeps taking me back to the heat and humidity of when we moved in...We (Randy, Linda, Mike and I) were so miserable. And poor Justin Ray...we were SO thankful for Justin that day, August 8, 2005~that’s the day we moved into Sunlake and began what we thought would be the one of the greatest experiences of our lives. And it was and has been...but in a COMPLETELY different way! We soon met Justin's wife, Jennifer and they invited us over for dinner. YEA!! Another couple! Justin and Jennifer had already met Tim and Stephanie so it was a little intimidating but that meant we now had 2 couples to get to know!! Shortly after, at orientation, we learned there were several other seminary couples in our complex, one of which was Rhyne and Micah. Orientation was also where Mike met Rhyne. I wish we had met them so much earlier than we did. I feel we were cheated in a sense...we didn't have as much time to get to know them as the others. But we soon got to spend some time with them and it was like we were old friends! They are the only ones that have ever given us some competition on "Friends" trivia! (And they better be practicing because we're definitely having another round when we see each other again!) It was amazing to have such good friends with the Ray's and Putman's after such a short time.
We were so excited! And the atmosphere of the city was amazing...there was EXCITEMENT and newness! We would drive around for hours and hours, just learning the city and the sights and sounds. It was also the first time we were able to visit different churches! We were so excited about that part! We visited 2 with the Ray’s and Peabody’s and were so thrilled about the church we were to attend August 28…Gosh, it was an AMAZING time! A VERY SPECIAL TIME...
I miss that time everyday and long to go back to those 3 weeks! Gosh it would have been so much fun to live there for 2-3 years together! I think about all the things we (the 4 couples) would have shared together...probably several births (I’m sure Stephanie would have been first! Lol…She has since had a baby), birthdays, holidays when we couldn't get home...we would have been each others families and I could see God forming those bonds in those long but short 3 weeks! When I spoke with Jennifer after we were in Georgia, she said those were the longest 3 weeks ever...in a good way! Mike and I totally agree that it was as if time stood still. Truly an amazing time! But, with all things, it was to come to an end August 29...3 weeks to the day of us moving in.
Hurricane Katrina caused so much damage to the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas. The area is still such a mess; I know we were blessed by being able to evacuate (THANK YOU JUSTIN AND JENNIFER...AND EVEN MORE, JENNIFER'S PARENTS!!!) without problems and most of our stuff "survived". But the emotional stress this storm brought was way more than I had expected. I was able to "handle" the changes at first but after a short time, the reality of it all sunk in. It is something I have tried to put into words for 11 months and I still come up empty…I wish I could explain it…
Despite the emotional roller-coaster it has brought, we are so blessed to have experienced the last year…We made such good friends, not only in New Orleans but also in Georgia, that will last our entire lives. Miles upon miles (lol) may be between us but I believe the friendship God rooted in us will keep us close. We share a bond that is special!!
Please keep New Orleans in your prayers…not only for those who have moved back and are working to repair the damage but also for those that continue to deal with the emotional stress of the storm. I can’t imagine enduring this without the love, direction, and support from God, my family, and friends! Thank you all!!!