Ashlyn's Ms. Lynda
This is a story of Ashlyn's friendship with someone she met during a mission trip and how God's grace has blessed their friendship beyond the trip.
This story is published in The First Edition, March 2016 issue.
While the memories of mission trips rarely fade, they can become blurry with time. However, this past summer when the youth went on a trip to Oklahoma City, I met Ms. Linda. I worked in her home for a few days (although some people on my crew may say that I talked more than I worked!) It might be true, but I think the people we serve are just as important as the work we do. She is certainly someone I’ll never forget and that is partially because we are pen pals now. After we left her house for the final time, I felt God pulling at my heart. I felt that driving away from her home was not supposed to be the end of our relationship. So when I got home from the trip, I asked Next Step (the missional organization for our trip) for her home address. As soon as I got it, I wrote her a letter and sent her a picture of us. I wasn’t expecting anything in return, but what I got was more than I could have ever hoped for.
My first letter from Ms. Linda arrived almost 2 months after I sent her my package. I had already left Georgetown for Waco and was living and breathing the college life. My mom texted me and said I got a letter from Oklahoma. “Do you want me to throw it away?” she asked. I said, “Absolutely not!” and eagerly read it the next time I came home. That first letter was written on a ripped piece of notebook paper with a hand-addressed envelope, but she seemed to be jumping off the page with excitement about the letter and picture I had sent her. Since that first letter, we have shared at least a dozen more. Linda has now upgraded to return address labels and cards instead of loose paper. For middle and upper class people like you and me this doesn’t seem like much. But the effort, time and money for these little things is a luxury for Ms. Linda.
Having Ms. Linda as a pen pal has taught me more in the 3 months we have been writing than I could have ever learned about her, her life and her family during the week we were there. I have struggled with her and prayed with her through tough times. I firmly believe that I have grown from talking to her just as much as it’s been nice for her to simply have someone with whom to share through letters. With my crazy college schedule, it can be hard to sit and write a letter, but getting one in return makes it all worth it. Who doesn’t love mail? I love getting letters almost as much as I love food (which is a lot). I believe that if we could keep up with the people we serve on mission trips in the years after we serve them, we will all experience more transformed lives. I plan to keep up with Ms. Linda for as long as I can. Our friendship is a constant in the ever-changing life of a “college girl.” If it can do that for me, I know it can do that for you too.
We offer many missional opportunities for our youth through the Student Discipleship ministry. This builds a servant attitude for expressing God’s love through service for others and in Ashlyn’s case, a growing friendship that crosses many boundaries. To learn more about our Student Discipleship mission trips, please visit our website or contact Trevor Kennedy and Kenny Bray , co-Directors of Student Discipleship at FUMC Georgetown.