July 15, 1998 – Wednesday – 10:30 p.m.

Tomorrow is the birthday of two girls on my team: Angela and Sarah.  One will turn 15, the other 19.  Angela has an amazing heart in her and I see a fire in Sarah’s eyes that I never saw in my own Sarah.  And I’m jealous because she is so bright at just 15.

I’ve had some unique food so far, but it has all been pretty good.

Today was dedicated to rehearsal our street drama and we’ve got it down pretty well.

This morning during my quiet time, God showed me how important each of the people here are to him and how happy he makes him to see us sharing our life for this brief time.  Already I feel haunted by their eyes.  The girls here seem so pure.  I like how righteous they carry themselves and how they are saving themselves for their husbands.

And I am doing the same, though my two previous girlfriends so desperately wanted me to touch them.  But even that is too far, for a girl here said a guy should treat a girl like fine china, “no fingerprints.”

Hmmm.

Well, God protected me, and seeing all these pure eyes and pure spirits has given me so much hope that I will marry a woman who loves God as much as the girls around me do.

And I think they see the same in me.  One girl told me this morning that I was such an amazing guy.

Paul just entered.  He is 15, but in no way looks like it.  He is 6’3″ and from Maryland.

John is my other roommate.  He is 19 and from Arizona.

They are both here now.  Time to chat with them.

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July 13, 1998 – Monday – 6:30 p.m.

I am flying over the North Atlantic.  We just recently left New York.

The past four days have been amazing; forgive me for not writing during the time, but I was super busy.  My fellow missionaries and leaders are fantastic.  Audrey is my flight partner.  She’s 18 and a senior in high school with really pretty eyes.

The past four days of training alone have already changed me.  I am a different person.  My heart has been broken for the world.  I am ready to change it.

My new buddy Chris is sitting behind me.  The poor guy thew up on the bus ride in New York.  My Mission Advisor Group is myself, Chris, John, and Paul.

This is the most amazing plane I’ve ever been on.  They gave me a blanket, a pillow, socks, and a toothbrush.  Wow!

Every person here is so wonderful.  They are overflowing with the Lord and are completely committed to him.  It’s difficult to begin writing about this new time, for there are simply so many people.

In a few hours I’ll be entering the Southern Hemisphere for the first time.  God is so good.  He is using me to change the world.  There is no joy in a life lived for the self.  Only complete giving of ourselves to God and to others will satisfy.  I love you God!

July 9, 1998 – Thursday – 10:05 p.m.

I’m in Texas!  Dan is here.  He’s going to Alaska and I’m going to South Africa.  We’ll try to hang out a bit each night.

The girls going to South Africa with me are so beautiful, but even more amazing is their deep relationship with Jesus.

It is so warm here.  The moon is full and orange as it sits on the horizon.  I never saw the moon so close when I was in the mountains.

Our South African team is easily the most verbally excited group here.  We’ve made up our own chant and everything.

We will fly out on either Sunday or Monday

July 4, 1998 – Saturday – 11:59 p.m.

I am now in a beautiful country home on the outskirts of Colerain, NC; a place I’ve never been to before.

I went to the youth service with David at Parkway Temple on Friday night.  It was so awesome.  I’ve never seen kids praise the Lord like that before.  I was around an entire new set of people, but I felt so at home.

After the service I went over to Justin’s house where he and all of his camp friends were getting together.  I spent another two hours with people I’ve never met before.

The past few days have just been new people after new people!  America is just filled with wonderful people everywhere I look.

Then, this morning, I left with David, Mary Jo, and Mark and we drove down to Mary Jo’s house here in Colerain, NC, 15 miles east of Ahoskie for the 4th of July.  All three of them are Divinity students at Regent, and we spent most of the day on the shore of the Chowan River that runs nearby.

Mary Jo’s parents are hilarious, especially her dad.  They are so hospitable and they fed us like crazy!  Three other friends of hers came over, Kelly and Chad from Greenville, NC and Coleen, another girl from Regent.

We swam in the river, enjoyed the beautiful scenery, but the fireworks were cancelled that evening due to strong winds.  Instead, we just sat on the swings and talked.  We spent hours and hours there; the conversation just flowed.  The warm wind blew all over us.  Coleen is so unique and beautiful.  It was just the most perfect 4th of July I could have had.  Talking and sharing with new souls who seem so eager to know you is one of life’s greatest gifts!

Now it’s time for a peaceful sleep.

June 29, 1998 – Monday – 9:29 p.m.

Today is Allen’s birthday, but I haven’t called him yet, since I don’t have my phone hooked up.  Happy 22 Allen!

Matt and I watched Braveheart last night.  I woke up kinda early this morning and tried to run some errands, but there wasn’t much I could do.  I did meet some faculty members, but very few.

I drove to the beach today.  It was very touristy, so I drove onto the Fort Henry Military Base at Cape Henry.  I went to the Cape Henry Memorial.  I was alone, it was nice, like my own little corner of the world.  There were dolphins playing in the waves.  It reminded me of Hilton Head.

Wow, that was a long time ago.

I miss Emily and Sarah.  I miss a beautiful woman in my arms.

Matt and I went to see The Truman Show tonight.  It’s such a perfect movie.  There was a beautiful storm brewing outside as we left.  I can see so much farther here.  Well, not as far as if I were on top of Grandfather Mountain, but far simply because it’s all so perfectly flat.

In nine days I depart for Texas, and five days after that I leave for South Africa.  Today I went to places I’ve never been before.  And that is pretty much going to be my life for the next month.

Tomorrow is the final day of June, then 1998 will be half over.  And I did the math, after I turn 22 in August, it’s 500 days until the year 2000.  Crazy!

Our phone should be hooked sometime tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to that.

Virginia Beach is the largest city in Virginia population wise, but it’s been pretty peaceful since I hardly know a soul.

June 17, 1998 – Wednesday – 4:30 p.m.

I turn 22 in two months.

The final pages of this Book of Days seem to be falling out.  I hope this journal stands the test of time and still has all it’s pages whenever I or someone else reads it.

I haven’t written since Saturday.  The weekend didn’t turn out that great, but all is well. Everyone seemed to understand while the visit was difficult for me.  I did get to see Sarah a little bit, but not much.  Nevertheless, I am home.  This place is home for ten more days.

When Lindy dropped me off on Sunday there was a strange car in the driveway.  I walked into the house and there stood a beautiful and curvy dark-haired girl.  She was looking at me.  I had never seen her before.

It turns out, she and her mom were looking at buying our house, or possibly renting it.  The girl is only 15, but she looks 18 or 20.  Her name is Shana and we talked the whole afternoon.  She’s pretty neat; she said she would call me.

Emily have talked an average of twice a week recently and I’ve been hanging out with Marcus and Peter quite a bit.  These days have been nice.

I bought Sarah a small Bible and had her name engraved on it.  I wrote a special goodbye in it and will give it to her on the last night I see her before I leave: June 26, 1998.  What a night that will be!  Will that be the end or just the beginning?

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

“Soon it will be time to go out to the places I will be from.”

I’ve learned a hard lesson these past few weeks:  all these people and places that I’ve loved for so long….none of them are really mine.

June 3, 1998 – Wednesday – 10:00 p.m.

I just got back from church.  You know, I’m really beginning to miss Lees-McRae.  It can never again be like it was.  Vince, Dan, Allen, Curtis, Charlie, Justin, Josh, etc.; I don’t think I’ve ever had better friends.  Lindy, Tracey, Jeni, Abigail, Ann-Marie, Jessica, Ashley, Ellen, Jessi, Sherlive; I don’t think I’ve ever known sweeter girls.

Except for Sarah, of course.

And I know the God who designed their souls, who drew out the patterns in their eyes, who knew those very eyes would one day shoot daggers through my own soul.

A week from tomorrow I will be leaving to visit them all again with Lindy.

I feel Sarah has changed since she has returned home and taken her job at YMCA.  She seems more mature.  I like it.  I think about her constantly.  I want her forever; to grow old with her.  To simply experience everything by her side.

I will soon go a long time without seeing her, but I will never go a long time without loving her.

I’ve been thinking and I believe that my life has stages.  God plans on using me in different places, different areas, and in each area, in each place, he just wants to watch me interact with and love the other people he has made.  He wants me to experience his creation.  He made me to show me off, and he made others to show them off.

But each stage will eventually come to an end, and the love between us will be all that will live on.

Nothing truly dies.

The Emmanuel Players skit group was a time.

Chatham Central High School was a time.

Lees-McRae College was a time.

Heaton Christian Church was a time.

South Africa will be a time.

Regent University will be a time.

And possibly, some day, I will satisfy these desires in me to make movies, to make theater, to write, and I will move on to what’s next.

It’s funny though, because through all of these stages, I feel they came to a peak when God showed me Sarah.  Or perhaps it feels that way because I’m currently in this moment.  Perhaps she is just here to aid in the transition to the next stage.

If I never see Sarah again after South Africa, all will still be well for the rest of my life, for I know I at least had seven great months by her side.

And even an hour is way more than I deserve.