On April 18, Julie Kurrle, a precious friend, and her six year old son Timothy (my choice for Ruth's future husband since the day he was born!) were killed in a tragic car accident while serving as missionaries in Paraguay. Norberto, husband to Julie and devoted father to Timmy, and their daughter, Anahi, survived the accident and are now fighting to find their way without the light and love of Julie and Timmy shining at their sides.
Norberto and Julie Kurrle with Anahi and Timmy
I am not even sure when Julie and I met, but by our senior year at Anderson University we became roommates, sharing a campus apartment with two other best buddies. While Julie and I didn't move in exactly the same social circles at school, we had one passion that connected us until now, and for all of eternity...our passion for Jesus!
Julie shared my joy the day that Victor asked me to marry him....that day was Victor's birthday, November 11, 1997, so I had planned on making him a great Mexican meal to really impress the man whom I dreamed of marrying. (That's a whole other blog post that I would also rather avoid writing...due to the embarrassment it would cause me. Just think "crunchy rice." :-0) I had also purchased some sparkling cider to make the birthday dinner extra special. As dinner time approached, I opened the kitchen cupboard to get out the cider, but there was no cider! Considering that I had gone grocery shopping at about 2:00 a.m. at Meijer's, I figured I had misplaced the cider. However, after searching the car, my bedroom, every cupboard, etc., I gave up and forgot about the mystery. Victor arrived and the evening ended much different than I had planned....with an engagement ring on my finger!
After getting back to the apartment and telling "the girls" all the gushy details, Julie disappeared and came back with sparkling cider....my sparkling cider...the missing sparkling cider! She, and the other girls, knew all about Victor's plan to propose, including his intentions to serve me sparkling cider (out on the dock over the pond in the park....oops! that's another blog!). So, when Julie realized that I had also purchased sparkling cider, she hid mine in the bottom of her dirty laundry bin! Nope, I hadn't looked there!
Then, spring break our senior year the four of us roomies decided to take a road trip to the Grand Canyon! OK, so it was over 24 hours of straight driving and we had only one week! We took turns driving and drove straight through! We saw the Grand Canyon and then visited another friend in Colorado, went rapeling, caving, snow-shoeing, slid backwards down a mountain road, just about missed Monument Valley National Park by driving through it at night (didn't even realize we would be driving through it, but we got too tired to keep driving, slept parked in a hotel parking lot and woke up in the morning to an incredible sunrise over a spectacular landscape ), had to sit on the trunk of the car to close it, used a snowbank for a cooler (duh, we went camping in March in the Grand Canyon- hadn't thought about that one either and just about froze that first night!), etc. The most memorable part of the trip? It soon became a tradition that anytime the four of us reached a goal, did something incredible or simply had just survived another crazy experience, one of us would break into the Doxology. The other three would promptly stop whatever they were doing and join right in! We sang the Doxology in the craziest places...the most memorable rendition was right on the edge of the Grand Canyon after having spent the entire day hiking to the lowest point you can reach and get back out in one day.
Julie - we're going to sing the Doxology again with an even more incredible view than the Grand Canyon! Hold on, girl, I'll be there...in His time!
I hadn't seen Julie in years, but had become to marvel at how similar our lives had become. I could identify so readily with many of her blog entries about the missionary life, Latin American culture, ministry, work teams, motherhood. Then, when she and Norberto began the adoption process my heart just about burst! I thanked the Lord over and over again for having given me friends so many years ago that, although things weren't clear at the time, it was now obvious that our hearts had beaten in synch for a long time!
This past year the Lord used Julie in an incredible way to change lives of people that she has never even met! Julie had placed a link on their blog to Reece's Rainbow, reecesrainbow.org, an organization that promotes the adoption of children with Down Syndrome and other medical issues. I came across that link late one night while Victor was gone on a crusade. I'm not even sure why, but I then placed the same link on my Facebook page. A few weeks later I got an email from another best friend....also a "Julie". Julie (Lambers) Faulkner and I had been inseparable best friends in Junior High. This is another friendship that leaves me awestruck at the way that God gave me friends at age 12 that, 24 years later, share the same passions, joys, tears, struggles and loves as I! The Lord had used that link on my Facebook page to confirm Julie and Chris Faulkner's call to adopt a child with Down Syndrome...a link that had originally come from Julie Kurrle's blog.....it was the Julie/Julie/Julie connection from Paraguay to Mexico to Ohio!
Julie and Chris are now in the process of adopting Ryan...thanks to a simple link on Julie Kurrle's blog, Ryan's life will never be the same...never mind Julie and Chris', their girls', extended family and friends' lives! You can follow their adventures on their blog: goingafterone.blogspot.com.
When I found out that Julie and Chris were hoping that Ryan's adoption would be final this summer and that Julie and Norberto would be in the U.S. this summer visiting supporting churches and individuals, I had this hair-brained dream of finding a way to get the three Julie's and Ryan together. Well, we will still be together, someday, just not when I had wanted, but it will be for all of eternity!
The day Julie and Timmy went Home, I found out about the accident from one of our other roommates, my very best college friend, more like a sister, Janelle. I just "happened" to jump on the computer real quick that afternoon to make some photocopies She told me life-stopping news. Julie and Timmy were gone. I couldn't fathom it. I still can't fathom it. We cried. Then we cried. Then we cried some more. The next people I called were my parents.
And then, I called the other Julie, Julie Faulkner. Even though she never met Julie Kurrle, their lives will be linked forever and she needed to know that the woman God used in order to make her the blessed mother of Ryan was now in Jesus' arms!
During that phone call I came to a realization. Julie and Chris know that Ryan, barring a miracle, will not live to adulthood due to his many medical difficulties. Victor and I know that our Daniel, barring a miracle, will not live to adulthood due to his congenital heart and lung defects.
Daniel and I
Oh, our human finite ways of trying to understand, grasp, imagine all of eternity with an indescribable God! But, somehow, it helps!