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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Summer 2011, St Louis

If you scroll down the page a good ways, you'll see a picture of me (Kellen) with two handsome young guys in a blog post talking about discipleship. On the left is Jon Jon, and on the right is Joel. These guys graduated high school in 2009 and 2010, and are now college students in the states. This past summer I got to see them both.
I was a groomsman in Jon Jon and Lauren's wedding, and so was Joel. The Spencer family was kind enough to fly me out from Malawi to St Louis for 9 days to be in the wedding and with the family. The crazy thing is that David got married the day before. A weekend of weddings!
So the other guys in the wedding were Joel, Anthony (Jon's college roommate), TJ (a missionary kid from Canada/Malawi), Justin (Lauren's brother), Aaron (a friend from HS in St Louis), and David. TJ's brother Mitch was also there for the weekend. A family down the street from the Spencers offered their home for wedding guests to stay in, so it ended up all of us guys staying in a fully hooked up house.
What a rich time it was with these guys. It was my first time meeting Anthony and Aaron, but it's easy to see why they are some of Jon's closest friends. They are solid, fun guys. The other guys I knew well already, and it was a sort of reunion with many of them. TJ and Mitch's family, the MacLeans had returned to Canada from Malawi in 2009 so it had been a couple of years. Dustin Berger, a friend from Malawi who worked with Children of the Nations, was also there (which was nice, to have someone else in the house who is a few years removed from college).
Some highlights:
1) We had a day to float down the Meramec River in canoes, which was highlighted by a riverside lunch, swinging on a sketchy rope into the river, and a really good talk with Mitch, my canoe-mate. I was very encouraged by his growth as a young man, his plan for heading into the University of Toronto, and his desire to return to Malawi.
2) We watched the Cardinals lose to the Astros, my first trip to Busch stadium (it's okay though cause they're World Champs now). It was quite a group of us there, and I got to sit next to Jon the whole game. Frozen strawberry lemonade was worth the 7 dollars, considering it was about 90 degrees and humid at 8pm.
3) I had an early-morning breakfast with Jon at Einstein's bagels to talk about marriage, and figure out some ideas for a wedding-day present to Lauren. It was funny, I felt like this was the last time I would meet with Jon Jon in this capacity as a mentor. He was getting married a couple days later, joining the ranks of married men. What was so encouraging with Jon is that he is ready for this solemn and blessed responsibility of being a husband. His desire is to serve God and serve Lauren. Praise God!
4) Spending time with friends and family of Jon Jon in the hospital two nights before the wedding. He had an allergic reaction to some food, then had a panic attack. So he was ambulanced to the hospital and we hung out there until the early hours of the morning. Gotta' admit, it was scary. We all did get to spend some good quality time together in the ER!
5) Staying up til about 3am the night before the wedding helping Nell Spencer finish off the wedding cake. It ended up slightly tilted, but it was beautifully decorated in handmade, edible flowers.
6) Spikeball in the midday heat. It's an awesome game that I'm really mediocre at.
7) Time with TJ and Mitch at the St Louis airport over Starbucks. They treated, and we were able to chat for about an hour before departing.
The weddings both went well, and without any hiccups. It was special for me to hear Jon and Lauren promise each other their love for the rest of their lives. There is something very serious about these public declarations and being there to hear it and see it myself was very special for me.
The week was one of the most special for me in a long time. There were so many meaningful conversations in such a short period of time. I don't know when the next time will be that I get to hand out with those guys from the wedding. We're pretty well spread out, in Georgia, Florida, Canada, Wyoming, and Malawi. I treasure their friendships and hope there will be another time soon.