I met Kiki years ago while I was still in middle school. She was the leader on a high school missions trip that my older brother was attending to Ghana, West Africa. Hearing all the fun stories and adventures he went on that summer, I decided that I too wanted to see what Africa was all about. The following summer I threw some clothes in a bag with my passport and about 12 disposable cameras to join my brother and Kiki in Africa. I saw her love for Africa in the ways she would hold a child, hug an elderly woman, or join in the laughter of the Ghanaians...and trust me...Kiki can laugh! Throughout that missions trip, the joy she had for Africa spilled over to me. I fell in love with Africa with the same kind of love she too had. I still remember standing at the airport saying teary goodbyes to my new friends and this continent that had captivated me. Kiki noticed my tears and came up to me, hugged me, and with a wink said "Don't worry... you'll be back!" Thankfully I was blessed to join Kiki three more times to Ghana! I enjoyed all the prep work it took to get ourselves to Africa...hours of shopping and packing, weighing bags, running to the embassy, planning for pre-trip retreats together. Before long Kiki became an amazing friend and mentor to me. She poured into my life countless words of wisdom over the years...words that I still hold with me and have helped mold me and my walk with the Lord. The other day in church I heard a pastor talk about making sure we have friends in our lives that will tell us the hard truth and challenge us in areas in our lives that we may not want to be challenged on. That is Kiki for me. Her name came to mind so many times as I listened to that sermon. I am so very thankful for all our trips to Africa together...for her introducing me to Africa and all the joys that are within...for all our many talks and tears shared. Kiki came to visit me this past weekend since I haven't seen her since my return from Kenya. We picked up right where we left off...sipping coffee (Kiki is THE biggest Starbucks fanatic I know as you can see in the pictures), walking around the lake by my house, staying up till 1am on my back porch talking and sharing our lives with each other. She still asks me the hard questions...and for that I am so thankful!