As I drove home to Texas, floods of memories washed over me of my newly found friends and family in Cedarville. They are delightful memories, but to be honest, I tried not to think about them because it always hurts to say goodbye. I do try to remind myself, however, that with every painful goodbye that means that there was at one time a sweet hello, and I consider myself blessed to have been able to spend this past year with so many kind, generous, and welcoming families in Cedarville. Thank you to each and every one of you who took me in as I adjusted to life in the small northern village with which I have become so familiar and consider another home. I want to thank you all for the prayers you showered on me; I want to thank you for the warm meals you shared with me; I want to thank you for the movies you watched with me, the cookies you baked with me; I want to thank you for the incessant laughs to be found in every conversation; I want to thank you for your care in times of need like when my grandfather passed away this year; but I want to thank you most of all for being the body of Christ to me.
I find riddled throughout the Scriptures, stories of Christ welcoming and including others who would otherwise have been either forgotten or forced out of any social company. Think of the Samaritan woman with whom Jesus was not to associate. Think of Zacchaeus high in his tree, but looked down upon for his misuse of other’s money. Or think of the woman with the issue of blood, who was to be kept at a distance for her uncleanliness. Each one of these Jesus turned to with his fierce eyes, and once He arrested their attention, He relieved their fears and included them. As I see Jesus’ love poured out on to so many in the Scriptures, I see this key characteristic of Him: He is an includer. And as we strive to become like Him it is with great joy that I commend so many of you for shining His reflection through your lives so clearly by the way you include others. As I came to learn, Cedarville is a very transient community, and there always seems to be an opportunity to include someone.
I am grateful to my family at Grace Baptist Church that you reflected Christ’s very character by including me in so many ways. Continue doing so and never tire of doing good so that by your good works many will glorify our Father! I love you all. Thank you for your investment in me. I am sure to come back to Cedarville soon. With Gratefulness,