I met Jill nearly 7 years ago. The Lord had sent me over to Uganda to help in the town of Soroti -- He hadn't told me HOW I was going to help, just that I WAS -- and my first stop was at the orphanage north of Kampala where Dave and I had worked, where our "son", Sam, and his/"our" wife and daughter lived, so I could get myself focused and organized.
Jill was dropped into my life in a funny way. I was staying with another British lady at the orphanage and they watched Britcom videos on Saturday evening. Jill and I laughed just as loudly and at the same time and we just hit it off.
I was leaving for Soroti on December 3rd, and she was allowed to go with me. Quickly it became obvious we were either going to be friends or enemies by the time the jaunt up there was passed before the Christmas break -- we slept in the same bed most of the time, worked together all day in a small office, and had very little time apart.
We both saw and heard horrific stories at the Rescued Children's Camp, and we reacted differently... after hearing the stories and returning to the YWAM compound where we were staying, she pulled the sorrow into her heart and walked in silence; I cried, screamed, slammed walls.
She pushed me to pursue the needs of a young girl who was caring for her brother in the local hospital. I had become so tired and stressed from the various heavy experiences, that the "one more step" was almost beyond me. Between her desire to take the step and the Lord pushing me, it was done ... and the girl, an orphan whose brother died the day after we stepped in to help, is now 18, and is my granddaughter.
A few months after my return home, a young woman Jill had been caring for who had been struggling with cancer, died, and Jill crashed. Her church arranged for her to return to Worcester for a few weeks so she could rest and gain her strength back.
I was able to go for a visit, and, overall, we had a wonderful time. I had been in England before, attached to our layovers from Uganda, once staying for a week, but had never been in her home area, not far from Oxford and Bath. She and her friends took me out and about and I so enjoyed my time there.
I also happened to be there about this time in October on her birthday and we walked to the downtown area for lunch. It had been storming in the Wales area and the water was hitting their portion of the river Severn very strongly and it was overflowing the banks ... and along with the water, came the swans.
I was taking pictures and suddenly felt a strong whap on my thigh. Startled, I looked down, and a swan was whacking my purse with its bill, assuming there was lunch in there that I needed to share with it. [That was obvious from watching people tossing pieces of cookie and sandwiches to them.]
Today, Susie was talking about geese and ducks she has seen while out taking photos, and suddenly I remembered the swans, and then the time in England, and then that it was Jill's birthday about now, and THEN how we had met and what a wonderful friend she was at the beginning and now what a wonderful sister she is to me...
She will have a 3-month break this coming summer, and as she has done before, may take half of the time to come and visit me and my family, and I will take her on trips to various places -- but the main one will be up here to see Susie again.
Isn't it amazing to see how the Lord opens doors and pops wonderful little surprises through them, surprises we could never have anticipated? In November, '03, God sent me to Uganda and when God nudged her, Jill laughed her way through the door --- and we've shared our lives ever since.