a special friendship

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On Saturday morning, I drove to the Bronx for the Metro New York District Church of the Nazarene Children’s Bible Quiz. I knew that quizzers, their parents and children’s ministries volunteers from 5 different churches would attend.  I had spent the last few weeks coordinating the details – trophies, treat bags, score sheets, questions and award ribbons. I was looking forward to a great quiz and a bonus would be seeing my friend Diane. When I arrived I went looking for Diane, and found her in the church kitchen getting food items ready for the light breakfast the church was so graciously supplying for the attendees. After a big hug Diane introduced me to a young woman as “This is Miss Ann, my sister by another mother”.  That really made me chuckle. When we refer to each other we say Sister Diane or Sister Ann. Part of that is a cultural thing but part of it is a real sisterhood.  I have known Diane for many years.  Her children used to be quizzers.  She is a children’s ministries volunteer in her local church. She doesn’t put up with any nonsense, she has rules and she loves those kids. She is a shorter, darker version of me.

About a year ago, Diane asked me if I remembered the first time we met.  To be honest, I didn’t remember but Diane did.  She told a story that I had a vague memory of.  Years ago at a District Quiz, I had more quizzers than treat bags. You should know that the treat bags aren’t award show quality “goody bags”.  It is a snack size Ziploc bag with a some kind of kid trinket and a few pieces of candy.  I had apologized for not having enough treat bags and asked if anyone would volunteer to forgo getting a treat bag and I promised to mail them a treat.  Diane’s son volunteered and I got his address and mailed him a note and a few candy bars.  And I guess that made an impression because a friendship was born.

Diane called me one day to ask if I was going to M7? (M# is a conference the Church of the Nazarene holds every four years between General Assemblies) “Yes, I am. Are you going?” Diane responded “Yes, there is something I want to tell you before you go to M7” And Diane proceeded to tell me that she had been invited to share the story of God’s grace in her life and it had been filmed and would be shown at M7. And she wanted me to know that the film would reveal that she is HIV+. I don’t remember what I said. I was sad for my friend. I felt humbled that she wanted me to know before I saw the film. In the brief film, Diane sings and tells her story and gives glory to God for all He has done in her life. After the film was shown at M7, I found Diane and gave her a big hug. She said “so…” I said “well, I learned one thing. You sing more beautifully that I thought you could.”

In early 2008 when I was diagnosed with cancer, I called Diane and told her because I knew she would pray and I needed her prayers and strength.  I see Diane a few times a year at District events. When we talk those phone calls would have been precipitated because of some children’s ministries event. Our conversation will always end with us “catching up on family”.  She will say “how are the girls or should I say ladies?” and I will tell her. And then I will ask “how is your son and daughter”.  And she will fill me in on their lives.  Her son has been serving in the military in Afghanistan and will be home in June.  Yes, we are sisters by different mothers but we have the same Heavenly Father. I am so grateful for that.

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