Latte Letters 004

Latte Letters 004

In this segment of Latte Letters, I chat about a sweet friend that I miss dearly. I was going to write more, but we’ll leave it at that.

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I have an old iPod that I refuse to get rid of. One of the main reasons I won’t update it or get rid of it is because of an app that I used while in China to connect with my team and students. There are so many precious messages and pictures from years ago. Though I’ve been back in the states for more than 5 years, I still hold my chapter of China life near and dear.

Of Markets and ladles and closet-sized kitchens

It was 2011 and I was asked by some leadership friends to coordinate cooking for 40+ people in a kitchen approximately the size of a walk-in closet. I was young and had weathered my first year in China. I was unsure, however, about the task of cooking for a crowd. After all, I had only started to learn how to cook that year.

Not only was I coordinating meals and cooking, but I was also in charge of managing those who would be helping me. It seems like a natural assignment, but I was the baby of the group. Dynes was Filipina and much older but was my right-hand woman. She and I worked side by side to feed our friends and do it with style.

When we were preparing for this adventure, we thought about soups and stews that could feed a bunch of people. She told me that she was given a HUGE pot. SO huge that we needed to go to the market to find a giant spoon for this giant pot.

We met up one afternoon and headed to the market. Imagine a market the size of 4 home depots with little stalls in a maze. Since Dyn was friends with everyone she met, she took me to her favorite stalls in search of the perfect spoon. She also didn’t speak much Chinese and I didn’t at that point either. So, with many hand motions and broken Chinese, she asked for a large spoon. They would gradually show us spoons (ladles) of different sizes. Each one was far too small for Dynes! Finally, a shop owner pulls out a… wait for it.. shovel. A shovel. We died laughing and opted for their large spoon but not the shovel.

Turns out, the pot was only about 14qts. Not as giant as she described. But we got many laughs from that trip to the market.

Dancing through life

That summer was really special. It was exhausting but in the best way possible. Every night as we cleaned the kitchen, along with Dynes and my Chinese friends, we’d have a dance party. Pretty much every event that she went to turned into a dance party. It was the best.

She also loved to cook for students and friends. She said that her secret ingredient was love. We all knew it. She even had a line item in her budget for food and meals out to spend time with people (this wasn’t her general grocery budget). Each semester she would invite every single student she taught (100-200?) to her apartment to serve them homemade cookies or pizza. She was the definition of hospitality. Her apartment was filled with the loudest colors anyone could lay their eyes on. Neon orange? Oh yes. Lime green, you betcha! It was her. She was bright and lively. To know her was to love her.

The October Call

It was a cool October morning in 2015, I had invited my friend over for breakfast and we were getting to know each other. During that breakfast, one of my best friends called me with the shocking news that Dynes had passed away.

How? Wait? What? How could this lady who was only in her 30s and so full of life be found lifeless? Collectively, around the globe, we felt this deep loss. It was sudden. Abrupt. Rude. I was in the states, she was in China. There was no chance to even say bye.

Sure, I’ve lost loved ones and dear ones. But I got to at least say bye. This was the first death of my friend group. It is a loss we’re still not used to.

One of the reasons I refuse to get rid of my old iPod is because there are voice messages from her. Her precious words are ones I don’t want to forget. She had messaged me earlier in 2015 saying that she hoped she’d find her true love that year. Oh goodness, she totally skipped straight ahead of the line to go straight to be with the greatest lover of all time, Jesus! So, yes, her desire was fulfilled. Just, not in the way we expected it.

She had tried to come to the States but was denied a visa. She told me that she looked forward to when we meet again. Well, that meeting will happen in glory. It’ll be a good dance party.

Till we meet again, my friend. Hugs.