Wednesday, January 20, 2010
My husband was campus minister at the Univ. of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas and each year he would take a group of students to a conference in New Mexico. I went with him one year and met the girlfriend of our of our students. Lara was a student at the University of Texas in Austin and was staying at a cabin near ours. She sang with a group and their cabin didn't have a piano to play for rehearsal but ours did. So one afternoon, she and 3 other girls came and practiced their songs.
At the time, I was working as a photographer, looking to bank some candids of students I could sell to magazines and they let me take pictures of them...I shot several rolls of film...up on chairs, down on the floor...I told them to just ignore me and I'd be invisible amd they let me get away with it. After an hour or two I finally introduced myself to them and we became fast friends. That week I also met Lara's mother, Glenda, since she was there that week to serve as their cook. She was the secretary for their Baptist Student Center on the UT campus and knew and loved all the students and they loved her back.
A couple of years later I sold some of those pictures of Lara and her friends to the Baptist women's missions magazine I was writing for. Lara's relationship with the guy from our campus didn't last but our friendship did and we continued to write and call and visit through the years. Last spring Lara stayed with us for a week while she was doing research at the national archives in DC for her job.
I remember one day when our friendship was new I was on the phone talking to Lara's mother. I said something funny and she laughed and said, "I pray for your family every Thursday!" She kept lists of people she prayed for ...daily, weekly, monthly...thousands of people all over the world that she prayed for year after year after year. Her health limited her activities for years but her touch was felt around the world. Because of the impact my family had had on her daughter & friends, she prayed for us on Thursdays.
She prayed my daughter through the emergency c-section and 11 days in the NICU When we brought our daughter home, she insisted Lara drive her up from Austin to Belton just to see her, even though they could only stay a half an hour because they had to get home for another event. She prayed that same daughter through her eye surgery when she was two and she prayed us through more than one job transition and our move to Maryland.
When I was trying to decide whether to accept a series of big assignments from that Baptist women's missions magazine I called Glenda to ask for her advice and prayers. She told me she knew I could do it and vowed that if I accepted, she would commit to pray for me daily for as long as the assignment lasted. Of course, I did it. That was one of the most challenging and enriching years of my life.
When Glenda had heart surgery a few years ago, we prayed for her. Lara told us that her mother was disoriented as she was coming out of the anesthesia in the recovery room and Lara had to get right up in her face to try to calm her down. Then Glenda began to say names and Lara realizes she was reciting the names of the people on her prayer lists. She was in the recovery room after heart surgery and she was still praying for others.
We never lived in the same city, never spent more than seven days in the same place.
Glenda will be remembered for her laughter, her love and her prayers.
I will remember her as my friend.