Sometimes I encounter things in life that are wonderful, but as they happen I don’t realize the full magnitude of how special they are until I take a moment to step back and examine exactly what is happening.
Some of those things for me have been: marrying Patrick Conti, becoming a mother, fundraising for our move to South Africa in 6 months, the details of finding each of our homes, the people in my life… I could go on probably all day.
Recently i realized one of the absolute hidden treasures in this season of life.
It is Jacci down the street.
As I have shared about before, moving back to America was a hard decision to make. Leaving Africa was leaving dreams and desires in pursuit of obedience and growth. It is undoubtedly worth it and was the right decision for our family. You get it. Since moving home I have been so encouraged by some of the wonderful women in my life. I have some truly amazing friends. And one of them is named Jacci. And in case you didn’t guess, she lives down the street.
Jacci is more than a friend, she is a trusted advisor, big sister, and auntie to Elias. My favorite Jewish-loving Latina, she spent 15 years in missions before getting married to a Louisiana guy and moving to Baton Rouge. She lived in Swaziland + served alongside Patrick with Children’s Cup before we ever got married. She became a sister to Patrick first, and later to me.
When Patrick and I were getting married and our church, where I was on staff, went through the loss of a pastor and turmoil in the aftermath, Jacci was who I met with for counsel. She listened, she prayed + she was a safe place. As we prepared to move to Africa, Jacci met with us for pre-training + preparation for what we were stepping into. When we lived in South Africa, Jacci travelled to South Africa to host a retreat for all the Children’s Cup missionaries, as she has such a heart for health for those in ministry. She was the first example of caring for those in ministry that I knew. She planted seeds for Juniper Table. Now we live back here in Baton Rouge and Jacci, well she lives down the street.
We go on walks and talk about all the things, she stops by to borrow poppy seeds to make one of my recipes + usually asks what recipes I am testing because she is my self-proclaimed taste tester. She has dedicated an entire day with us having strategic planning meetings for Juniper Table because there are few we trust more with input into that than her. Her husband is on our Board of Directors and they both have prayed, spoken wisdom + been such great friends to us. She will rearrange her day to watch Elias for me, and loves him so sweetly my heart could burst. She gave me the name of a counsellor to see when I realized it was time to get counseling. She has been my ongoing missionary debrief since moving back. She will tell me the hard truths in great love, and I am thankful for that.
We remember places and people that were significant to both of us from our time in Africa. We have mutual friends that live on the other side of the world. As small a fact that may seem- it is life-changing. To have someone in this unexpected season that “gets it” adds a level of ease and comfort that is impossible to describe. It is a gift.