Then the farewell parties began. When you have spent six years building what are hopefully deep and lasting relationships with people, bidding them adieu is no fun. But everyone feels a need for closure in such situations, so there were a variety of events put together so that we could all say good-bye to one another. I don't remember many details about the actual events. I do remember that the final farewell was a reception after church in the Fellowship Hall, and that it was very nice (I also remember that The Pastor Who Shall Not Be Named couldn't be bothered to stay more than 5 minutes). What I really remember from all of the events is that we got 4 amazing gifts that I still treasure.
- The choir that Marilyn and I sang with, Joyful Praise, gave us a framed copy of one of my favorite anthems we had done- We've Come This Far By Faith. It was signed by all of the choir members, and it hangs on the wall in our living room today. Andrew Lewis was someone we were going to miss tremendously.
- Some of the younger girls in the group- Bethany Esry, Brittney Herder, Isabelle Davis, Julia Pribyl and I am not sure who else- made a scrap book for us. You have seen some of those pictures on this blog, and that scrapbook is very dear to me. So is the inscription inside the front cover: "To Carl Jones, the BEST youth leader ever!" They were wrong, of course, but I love them for saying it!
- Sam and Leila Lupfer presented me with a journal with the title, "Carl, I'll Never Forget the Time..." In it, many members of the Youth Ministry Team and church staff had remembered events and moments that we had shared over the years. Entries from the Lupfer's, Cindy Martin, Cathy Thacker, Mark & Beth McKenna, Dana Schmidt, Karen Fry, Michael & Becky McCleery, Brian and Jill Watson, Carol Kraus, Sandi Lynch and more were so meaningful and touching.
Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom, and make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. Some people stay in our lives a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.
Because of Jesus,