My name is Autumn Buzzell and I live and work in Ghana, West Africa with City of Refuge Ministries. Here, I run our school, Faith Roots International Academy, and get to be a part in rescuing and the healing of children who have been trafficked into the fishing trade, orphaned, abandoned, and those who just need a little extra loving. What an amazing gift this life is!

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Week 1--USA

I've been in the States a week and have been LOVING my time! It has been such a joy to get to be a part of my friend's life here.

Yona was one of my friend's from college. I remember when I first met her, I thought, "Wow! This girl is loud!". Little did I know that she would become one of my best friends, a confidant, an encourager, an inspiration, there through the good and the bad. We have shared ups and downs, apartments, hotel rooms, road trips, and long walks. We have shared tears and laughter.
I remember Yona's wedding, 4 years ago this week, to her high school sweetheart Eric, and seeing them more in love than I had ever seen them before.

And I remember helping them move into their new house right around Thanksgiving time their first year of marraige.

And then the news that Yona was pregnant (we were told on a roadtrip via text message) brought both tears of excitement and tears of loss. I knew I would be leaving for Ghana and would miss the birth of one of my best friend's child. I knew it would be difficult to walk through the pregnancy with her being so far away, and I knew that the birth of her little girl would happen without me there.

But the joy of meeting her around Christmas this past year was unspeakable. And this last week with Yona and Eric has been such a blessing. Isabella Grace Roberts is absolutely adorable. She loves to laugh. She loves to be tickled. She loves to be held by her mommy (or most anyone hanging around). She loves to play. She's almost walking (I know, OA like her mom and dad). She is just an absolute joy.

And time with Yona and Eric was absolutely a blessing too. It was good to just TALK with my friends. To hear from them the joys and pain of this past year. To hear from them, to pray for them, to walk through a week in their life...it was just a wonderful week.

Blabe came to visit me this week. It was wonderful to get to see her beautiful face again. Blabe and I were roommates in college, and then we stayed roommates after college. She is one of the most amazing girls that I know. She worked crazy jobs and hours to be able to get her master's degree and now works at Stanford University, helping the research department collect data on new technology to help both those with siezures and parapalegics. Simply brilliant!

Blabe is funny too. When we used to live together, she would sing my roommate and I to sleep, but her "talent" was so amazing that we would mostly break into giggles. She is an amazing dancer and with her dancing talent comes her need to stretch into the most rediculous positions, all while watching college football on TV. Blabe is a bit of a germ-phobe, and with a friend like Yona, the combination of those two were absolute comedy magic!

Blabe has had her share of troubles this year, but I continue to be in awe of her stamina and her ability to push through the tough things that have happened this year. She is strong! And I admire her for that!

Yesterday, Kat and Isaiah came to pick me up and I have had the opportunity to spend yesterday and today with them. They are such amazing, encouraging, and funny friends.
I met Kat in college. As a freshman, our roommates camped out to be able to get rooms in our future RA's, Kat Nix, hall. That year, our year in room 2.5, we experienced some of the funnest memory making times of my life! There were the road trips, the fire drills, the pranks. Little did I know that Kat would become one of my closest friends. We spent spring breaks together, holidays, and I event felt, at times, as if I was a part of her family as I was at her Arizona house more often than my own. Eventually, we became roommates and partnered in ministry and life together through the years.

Just yesterday, I was reminiscing about Kat and my road trip out to Arizona and our night at a bed and breakfast. We had such an amazing time together! We sang worship songs at the top of our lungs and I believe we were actually hoarse by the time we made it to the bed and breakfast!

And Isaiah, a fellow RA and musical officianado, became a fast friend as he and Kat walked through a dating relationship and into marraige together. It has been such a joy to be allowed the freedom to partner with them in so many ways, to be allowed into their lives, and to get to experience such rich relationship.

And with all of these memories behind us, when we come together, even though it has been a over a year since we saw each other last, it is as if time has stood still and we are back together again just as it always was.

T and Evan arrive tonight in Orange County. T was my roommate in college and afterwards. In fact, we lived together for 8 years, until she was married off to Evan. She is an amazing woman, with an amazing story, whom God has used in amazing ways everywhere she goes.
I remember when I first spent time with T. I had had my share of issues my last semester of my freshman year of college and they led to the culmination of a panic attack. Thinking that I couldn't breathe, I went to the only aquaintance that I knew with a vehicle--T. She took me to the hospital in the middle of the night and after that, we became fast friends.

Road trips, choir tours, musicals, roommate bonding time, pranks, late night TB/PH runs, laughter, praying together, mourning together, visiting each others families, being there when everything fell apart, and walking through the putting back together. We were there. We were there through it all. And that was just college!

Then, there was the journey of relationships with boys...well, one in particular. Evan, with his scruffy beard, his charming smile, his quick wit, and his stories...Evan stole her heart and eventually took my friend to be his wife and they moved to Stockton. I visited a lot the first few years of marraige and even more as marraige led to pregnancy and then pregnancy to the birth of my beautiful little Brylie Kaye Kolding. We've lived a lot of life together and we have cried a lot of tears. We've eaten a lot of dark chocolate together and we've prayed a lot of prayers together. And it is in this woman, that I have found deep and forever friendship!

Joanna comes in today too. I am sad that I'm missing her arrival, but tomorrow will arrive soon enough!

Joanna was one of my first friends in college, Hope International University. She says that we met when I walked up to her to ask her to be my friend, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it was the other way around (I wouldn't tell her that though *wink*wink*).

From romps in the rain on lover's lane, to late night talks about boys, New Year's parties, and graduations, roomates, roadtrips, flights from Portland and back again, laughter, tears, joy, and sorrow. This friend is as loyal as they come. We lived together for a year in college before she moved back to Portland, OR, but that wasn't the end of our friendship. Visits to one another, phone calls, letters (14 page ones at that), and roadtrips have kept us in the loop of one another's lives.

She is an adventurer. A motorcycle, hikes in the woods and camping with her family, going back to school to become a RN, and not letting anything stop her from her dreams. Marathons and camping on the street. Bold in everything that she does, yet gentle in ways you wouldn't expect. Joanna is a faithful friend and I am so excited to see her, to hear from her and laugh with her.

And Jake, ever-faithful Jake. A friend of Yona's husband, Eric, Jake joined in the group and has never left. Funny and sweet, faithful and kind, he is a friend that is as close as a brother.

Jake surprises us sometimes. Like the time that he sang kareoke with Blabe and they were awesomely terrible, but still got all the votes because they were so amazing together! And then with his skills with the camera (he's an amazing photographer). And people see the amazing in him all the time--like when he was given the job to oversee a whole program in a school district because of his success as a special education teacher. Or when he volunteers for this ministry or that one because he has a heart to change the world--to make it a better place for kids and the youth of this nation.

I like to tell others about these friends because, well, they're amazing, and I'm blessed to have them in my life. It's a priveledge really...

This next week, my college friends, the beatniks, and I are heading up to Big Bear, the mountains here in California, to enjoy time together. This is a tradition that we started back in college and continue to this day. Some have come and gone from our group, people moving away to different parts of the country and even the world, but this small group comes together each year, with added members, husbands and now babies, and we get to enjoy the fellowship of deep and lasting friendship once more. I am so looking forward to meals together, walks and talks (especially the late night ones with Joanna), nights of worship, mornings of quiet times and work outs, and laughter...always the laughter. So looking forward to time away, away from the busyness of life, and time to just sit and BE together. In awe, I look at the GOODNESS of God through the seasons of 10+ years together as friends. Life is rich these days...

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