Heidi is one of my friends from way-back. My mom says that we were on the same diaper changing table in the church nursery. I only saw her every four years while her family was on furlough from their missionary work in West Africa. We grew closer in our junior year of high school, which is when we started talking about the possibility of me going to Mali to visit her. One thing lead to another, and that possibility turned into reality after our senior year.
My 7 months in Mali were life changing. Heidi and I got involved with a literacy program through Gospel Missionary Union - along with another gal from Nebraska and another missionary "kid" that lived in the same area Heidi's family was in. The four of us spent 2 months learning Bambara -- at least we learned enough to get by. Then we moved into a more remote area and taught people to read (in Bambara) for the last 5 months. It is hard to describe how much an experience like that can impact a person. Mali is one of the poorest countries on the planet - but the people are so generous. And they are so happy too! They really taught me more than I would ever hope to teach them.
Anyway, Heidi is now a wife and momma, and they have all moved back to Mali to be full time missionaries. She absolutely amazes me! Although we don't get to see each other very frequently - we share a definite bond. Heidi, I know you read my blog frequently -- I hope you don't mind that I shared a bit about you. Oh, and I am still working on that package for your family as well. Gonna have fun shopping for a few things later today. :)