My Almost Niece

Neil Kilwa Anderson . . . the best big brother a girl could have. Even if I never had anyone to compare him to. Even if he didn’t arrive until I was 12. Fresh out of hospital–he’d been ill–and fresh from the African bush, he arrived at our home and with surprising speed became an integral part of the family. Tennis rackets and bowie knives notwithstanding. Throughout his seminary career our little family fed him and taught him. As his new-found sisters we tickled him, bothered him, bickered with him, listened to his stories, lovingly ate his atrocious cooking, and in retribution hid all manner of creepy-crawlies in his bedsheets while he was in the shower. Snails especially.

And those stories –never have I heard the like. Dudes named “Fish”,  huge fires in the middle of the veldt,  wild trips down the Zambezi River, nearly “getting chowed” while surfing in the most shark-infested waters of the world, and all the other “Hectic!” things he did.

We watched him study himself delirious and succeed. We watched him learn hard lessons and recover. I made him coffee that was too strong and we cooked food that was too bland, but he loved us anyway.

Here’s to the friend who joined in tickle-fights even though he hated them, just to please us. Here’s to the friend who reprimanded me when I needed it. Here’s to the friend who was there for my Most Embarrassing Moment. Here’s to the friend who taught me how to drive a stick-shift. Here’s to the friend who totally freaks my melon. Here’s to the friend who gave me the book “Beautiful in God’s Eyes” for my 16th birthday: Kilwa, you are my brother.

And even though part of me cannot forgive you for moving back to South Africa, I know that’s where you found your wife so I suppose it’s alright. And I know that it’s where your heart is; you love your people and God is using you among them.
Thank you so much for bringing Nicole to meet us. I love how perfect she is for you. And lovely too. We enjoyed her so very much, grew to love her, and I am greatly relieved that she seems to love us back!

So lastly, here’s to the friend who finally got married and, now, is a brand new father.

Neil, I could hardly believe my eyes as I looked at that picture of you and Nicole and your precious Olivia this morning. There were tears in my eyes! She is beautiful as can be. I cannot possibly tell you how happy I am that God brought Nicole and this new daughter into your life. He has blessed you so richly. I can’t wait to meet her =}

Olivia Hannah Anderson . . . I’m already praying for you little one. And by the way, you have the best parents ever.


IFO Culture Night

It’s long past bedtime but I want to quickly share with you all some of the exciting things we saw and heard this evening at UALR. Got to have dinner at a table where Rwanda, Iraq, Chile, and South Korea were all represented, surrounded by many many more. Loved meeting Valens, Yassir, Anita, Sami, and reconnecting with Claire from France.

If I can get this to work, enjoy!