It's been a long time since I haven't heard from you--years in fact. A few days ago I got an email from you with a few photos and a little account of the work you are doing in Mexico with your family. You look radiant but then again, you've always been amazing!
I will never forget how we met, one May afternoon in Italy--it was shortly after my birthday. I was working at the old-folk's home in the neighboring town. I worked shifts and because I was young and usually willing, I worked more than the other nurse assistants, which meant that I didn't get many free days.
A mutual friend called my dad, asking him if he wouldn't mind helping organize a children's show, and because my dad had experience in that line of work he agreed. Three of my younger brothers and sisters would go with him, and my dad asked me if I wanted to come as well. I told him that I was working that particular Sunday and wouldn't be able to accompany him.
But "destiny" wanted things differently. The day before, a colleague of mine begged me to change shifts with her for Sunday, and that meant I had a free day. So I went along to the children's program.
You were there, and at first you were shy--you didn't talk very much, except to my brothers. We all dressed as clowns and painted our faces, and you brought your guitar. It was a hot day and there were tons of children. You played the guitar and we all sang along.
When we were done, we went to the van to change our clothes and take off our wigs and clown props, and we started talking. I told you about my work, my life, my boyfriend and my emptiness and dissolutionment--and you told me about your missionary work in Croatia.
You were 17 but had such passion about your life, the work you did, your goals and the meaning of life. You told me stories, adventures, testimonies and I sat next to you inside the hot van, taking in every word.
Before saying bye, you told me I should come and visit you in Croatia--I said I would.
It's when we least expect it, that something changes our life. I would have never dreamed that I would leave home and venture into a life of volunteer work--but then I met you, and you lit the spark. And I've never been the same ever since.
I came to visit you in August, for a week--and I realized that I wanted a life like yours. I wanted to be part of something greater than myself. I wanted to change the world. And that's how it all began...
You will never really know, Jonny, how much you changed me. But you did! And I am so grateful to you.
God bless you and keep you being a blessing to many! May love be your keeper!
Jonny with children in Mexico