Kev described this part of his journey as "the eye of the storm." That is a very apt analogy. I hadn't thought of it just that way before, but as I look back at that period and read what he wrote, I realize that we were in a period of relaxation with no overt crises. At least not as big as those ahead of us.
High school graduation was a milestone, but was marred by the fact that he was very sick that week-end. It was the 100th anniversary of the school's existence, so it was supposed to be extra special - in the evening instead of during the day, with a fireworks display at the end. Unfortunately, it was SO COLD that May evening that I went to graduation in jeans and a down jacket.
Kevin used the word "luckily" rather tongue in cheek, I believe. Luck had nothing to do with his getting the job with our friends - it was a piece of the incredible puzzle of this troubled life. Even when Kevin felt that nobody at our church had any faith in him, had given up on him, thought he was a loser, these dear friends took a chance on him and hired him several times. It was hard, dirty work, but as he said, he did a lot of growing up during that time. I wasn't aware of the drug use there, and obviously neither were the employers, or all of them would have been gone in a heartbeat. He worked 10 hour days, sometimes even more, beginning at 7:00 a.m. and at times 6:00. He was good with his money at this time in his life.
The Seattle dream was one Kev had for quite awhile. I knew in my heart that it would be a tough road, but we were anxious for him to be able to see a dream come true. Seattle - beautiful place, home of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love - enough said? Rather scary to us. We had spent some time out there when my parents lived in one of the most beautiful little towns close to Seattle. He had always loved the thought of being out there. So he and his buddy outfitted this ancient hippie-looking van and headed for their adventure. They took their time getting there, playing tourist for several days. The reality check of trying to find a job without an address and an apartment without a job hit hard and fast.
As Kev said, it was shortly after returning from Seattle that an even greater adventure presented itself. Our church was taking a Work and Witness team to Mozambique, the second poorest country in the world, second only to Haiti. DC wanted to go, and really wanted Kev to go with him. He asked our pastor if he was willing to take a rebel on a mission trip. Pastor thought about it, prayed about it, and said he would take him as long as Kev attended church once a week until they went, so he wouldn't feel such a stranger with the rest of the team. Kev lived up to this agreement, and we felt so good seeing him walk into church with his Bible in his hands on Sunday mornings. DC ended up not going, but instead helped Kev pay for the trip.
This trip was another piece in the puzzle God was putting together. One of my dear friends was on this trip, one who had been praying for Kev for years. Kev had such a wonderful time on this trip and realized that these church people he had been avoiding for so many years really loved him and cared for him. He worked hard, played hard, had hordes of children following him around every day, took pictures of beautiful things and horrendous poverty. I posted 6 of those pictures on Wednesday (see previous post), and will post more next Wednesday.
Africa really got under Kev's skin. He was so intrigued and he left his heart there. He learned another church close by was going back to the exact same place in 4 months and he set about to make it happen that he would be on that team. This time he paid his own way, and we made several trips to this church to prepare for this trip. At this time, we were sure that his life had turned around and that he could possibly end up being a missionary someday.
One day Kev was looking at my refrigerator magnets. One of them was from our church college in Nairobi, Kenya. It had been on our refrigerator ever since the previous year when DC and I had gone to our denomination's international convention, visited the booth of this university, and brought home the magnet. Such a simple little thing - yet another piece of the puzzle. Kev asked me, "Do you think they'd let me go to school there?" I said I'd sure find out. I found an e-mail address, began corresponding with the administrator, and soon began to make preparations for him to go to Nairobi in January to attend school for at least one semester. To us it seemed such a great way for him to continue his love for Africa, have an adventure, be in a great place, and attend a Christian college.
I don't know everything that happened there. Keeping in touch was difficult because phone lines worked very intermittently. Phone calls were difficult, and e-mail was unreliable at best. But it wasn't long before he was talking to his sister and his cousin about a certain young lady over there. I remember the day I asked him if this tutor who was teaching him Swahili was more than just a tutor. He said, "Oh, Yes!" It was the furthest thing from our minds when we sent him so far away that he would fall in love. He came back here after one semester and the moment he told me he was engaged to this beautiful young lady from so far away is a moment that is indelibly forged in my memory.
The story of getting a fiance visa is one that could cover several posts. I could write a manual on getting through the INS system. It is not a pleasant process. But we persevered and conquered and the visa was finally granted.
I don't know where Kev is going next in his story, so I will wait until I read his next chapter to fill in the blanks from this end. But as he said, the hurricane, or blizzard, or tsunami was building and its destruction would be massive.