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More Than Forty Years Later ...


Telling Your Story
by Bev Berens

Published: Friday, August 11, 2017

Friends and friendships change with passing time, circumstance and place. Some friendships last a lifetime. Some friendships are cut short, and nearly a lifetime passes before the friendship is rekindled.

And sometimes, nothing short of an act of God—a miracle—reunites friends.

I had searched on-line for Maria off and on. Fresno, Calif. was the last place I knew her whereabouts. Not knowing a married name or if she married at all, I was looking for a needle in the haystack. Google gave me literally thousands of women sharing her common maiden name in California. If by some chance she remembered me or ever thought to look, she would have no way of knowing my married name either.

I hoped and prayed she was happy, healthy, and that at least most of her dreams had come true. More often than once, I said a prayer for the smiling daughter of migrant workers, the one with the bubbly personality whose locker was next to mine, the one whose friendship, although cut short by circumstances, was sweet and precious. She was there when school began and gone by Christmas, but the memory of her brought a smile to my lips.

Our conversations probably went like this: boys, what classes and teachers we liked, boys, what classes and teachers we didn't like, boys and more, well ... boys. You know, typical seventh grade girl stuff. We must have talked about dreams, hopes, goals, faith and the future somewhere in between, those things we tend to think of as little things in life at that age. I wanted to be a teacher. She told me she wanted to go to college. In the end, those little things are the big things.

The social media message request slipped under my radar for several hours; a stranger had asked to send a private message. The stranger's name was Maria and my eyes sprung an instant leak that wouldn't stop.

She, too, had searched several times, but through prayer, this time she tried another approach. The good Lord—and I mean very good—took her straight to a current photo which she compared to our seventh-grade photos. Her family agreed that they matched and encouraged her to reach out.

After much messaging, we set a time for a long phone call. With tissues nearby, we talked for hours and what a reunion it was! She shared her life story from being the daughter of migrant farm workers to becoming the lead teacher at one of Fresno's elementary schools. The light of Christ shines brightly through her and onto the children she has taught for the past 29 years!

She shared how a simple friendship more than 40 years ago made her realize that the life she wanted was one that didn't require moving with the crops or moving ever again for that matter. She realized that a life of faith was what she and her family needed, and through more transforming miracles, change happened soon after she moved.

There is much to this story that shows me just how God's hand was visible. As we do our daily chores, interact with our friends and neighbors, we don't always see or experience Him that clearly. If you have a hunch, it's probably more than just a hunch. It may be God tapping you on the shoulder, saying, "Try this." And friendships? Well, don't take them for granted. You have no idea how all the parts and pieces come together in the end.

This whole event has left me speechless (that doesn't happen often!) and in awe of God's awesomeness. In this case, He gave and took away a friend, but left the friendship. It just took more than 40 years for the opportunity for it to rekindle.

Bev Berens is a mom to 4-H and FFA members in Michigan. Do you have a story to share? Email her at uphillfarm494@yahoo.com.

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