(As a side note, it's amazing what timing will do for you; if we had waited another year or two to come to South Plains, or to be interested in Bible bowl, we would have met an almost-completely different group of people, who may or may not have befriended us so quickly & easily because of their own life circumstances. Kind of wild, when you think about it.)
I don't remember what prompted us to walk into Family Builders one Sunday morning. I do know we had been teaching children's classes for about six months and had pretty much lost touch with our previous Bible class, so we decided to make a change. It was also toward the end of a teaching cycle with the adult Bible classes, so I know we didn't intend to stick around in Family Builders more than a week or two.
I was surprised to discover that there were people in Family Builders that we didn't know; we thought we had met all of that particular gang. I was not surprised that those unknown people were just as kind and welcoming as the ones we already knew.
I was surprised at the insistence of some that we should just stick around when we mentioned that this was a brief stopover on our way somewhere else.
So, stick around we did. And we've learned to love them all even more than we already had done (and I think I finally learned everyone's names (this class has about 80 people) the week before we moved). But it's the measure of love that has been returned to us that is especially humbling...
The week before we left, one of the class chairmen (and one of the first people we met at the long-ago Bible bowl meeting) said some nice things about us. Really, really nice things. Such nice things that I was in tears when he was done. And then he messed it all up by telling everyone that they should give me a hug before we left-- apparently, he never got the "no-hug zone" memo.
All was well, though-- last week, I was giving out hugs for free.