August 17, 2011

Dear 20-Year-Old-Chad,

You don't know me.  But you will in a couple of years.  Right now, you are in Costa Rica for the first time, living with a family you barely know, speaking a language you hardly speak, feeling quite out of your element. But you won't feel that way for long.  You just made a decision that will affect my life profoundly.  Your Costa Rican host family just let you know that Fanny, the mom, is very sick and will be in the hospital for a while.  You were offered the opportunity to find a new family to live with for a while, but you declined.  You decided to stay and help.  You don't know it, but you just changed my life drastically.

That high school boy who lives in the house with you?  Alejandro?  Yeah, him.  You and he will become quite good friends.  Best, in fact.  He has some really rough months ahead of him.  You're going to be a great friend to him and I thank you for that.  Since you decided to stay and help, you guys are going to become such good friends that at the end of the year, after you go home, you're going to come back to visit, just to invite him to live with your family. And he will.  For about 8 months.

He'll fall in love with the United States and decide he's going to marry a gringa so he can live there.  Ok, he'll really hope that happens.  And it will, in fact.  But let me back up.

That girl you left back home?  Sarah?  You're going to marry her.  She's the one for you.  Neither you nor her have really figured that out yet, but you will, so be nice to her.  In a year or two, you and she will visit Alejandro in Costa Rica again, and that's when I come in the picture.  You sort of know it when you meet me, because when God chose me to be the gringa that walked in front of his house every morning on the way to go to school for a year, He knew what He was doing.  Yep.  I'm the one.  You and Sarah and Alejandro and I will walk the streets of Costa Rica, barely knowing each other, having no clue of the future that lies ahead.

You see, when you decide to marry Sarah, you also decide that Alejandro should be in your wedding.  In fact, you'll pay part of his way to Kansas so he could stand next to you in a suit.  Thank you for that too.  Because he won't use the ticket home.  He'll stay.  We'll get married just about six months after you!  And you'll be there.  We'll start our lives together here in the United States.

About 10 years from now, you won't believe it, but our families are going to get together at our house.  You're going to read our children a story.

I know right now you're single and carefree and all about fun, but see all those kids there?  All but one of them are yours!  Ha!  And guess what?  It's awesome!!

Your wife, Sarah, and I are going to talk late into the evening as your two year old and your littlest one sleep on her lap.

We'll take walks together again, except instead of walking the streets of Costa Rica, we'll walk the streets of our neighborhood.

We'll take all those kiddos to the park and our two-year-olds will slide together.

We'll try to take a picture of all five kids smiling at once, but it will be a dismal failure.  
Instead, we'll get them all frowning at once.  That's funnier anyway!

My son will adore yours, by the way.

We'll take pictures of your family.

and you'll take pictures of ours.

And then?

Just to bring it full circle?

We'll eat gallo pinto around our table for lunch.

So, 20-year-old-Chad?  Thank you.  Thank you for deciding to stick around and help, instead of being placed with another family without medical issues.  You'll never know how much I appreciate that one decision.