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      I Remember When…I Met My Friend Brian

      I remember when I met my friend, Brian.

      When I was a freshman in high school, one of my classes was AP English with Mrs. Roszek.  This class was 8th period every day with some of the brightest students from my class.  My high school was made up of students from five different sending districts, so the first year of high school was a lot about meeting new classmates and about getting used to being in a much bigger environment.

      The first week of English class, there was one kid in English class who stuck out.  He was not from one of the sending district schools.  Apparently, he was moving into the area to start his freshmen year of high school.  One thing that sticks out in my mind (and we still joke about this) is that Brian alternated between his ROTC uniform and coordinated JAMS shorts and shirts.  I don’t remember Brian being shy in class as he jumped right in on discussions about whatever topic we were covering in class.

      One topic where he was more quiet and I was certainly more vocal was the week or so that we covered Biblical literature.  I’m not sure if this is still covered in the public high school setting or not, but our class spent a couple of weeks reading and discussing the Bible.  As a pastor’s kid, this was my place to shine.  I was the one who knew all the answers to the questions that came up during this week.

      Not too long after school started, a family moved in across the street from my house.  I’m not sure what I was up to that day, but I wasn’t at home.  My out-going brother, David, was home though when this new family moved in, and he made sure to go over and introduce himself.  The family had an older son who had just started high school.  David told him that he had a brother who just started high school.  David invited the new guy over to our house for a drink and to show him a picture of me.  And it soon became apparent that this new boy knew who I was.

      We still laugh today at the reaction we each had to this initial meeting.  It was Brian’s family who moved in across the street.  He thought, “Oh no, the Bible geek lives across the street from me.”  And my reaction was probably just as amusing, “Oh no, the ROTC/JAMS nerd from English class lives across the street from me.”

      It wasn’t long before those thoughts were forgotten.  Brian and I became fast friends as we walked to the bus stop together everyday for four years.  Soon we were playing catch and running around the neighborhood together in preparation for cross-country season.  Brian was always much faster than me, but he allowed me to tag along none the less.  We would wear ourselves out on hot summer days and end up in his swimming pool practicing our “dives” and talking about the ups and downs of high school life.

      Somewhere along the line, I invited Brian to youth group at my church.  He couldn’t make it to Sunday morning church as he was typically working at McDonald’s, but he became a regular and active part of the youth group (we called it SYNC – Senior Youth Nurturing in Christ).  We had a blast doing all kinds of fun things together over these four years, and I could barely scratch the surface on everything we did.

      One thing that will always stick out in my memory is the note that Brian wrote to me at the end of our last missions trip together the summer before we went to college.  I don’t have the wording exactly right, but Brian’s note said something like “Jon, I want to thank you for your friendship over the years, but mostly I want to thank you for introducing me to Christ.”  Whoa!  I still tear up when I think about it.

      Over the years, we have remained good friends.  We don’t see each other often enough as he lives in North Jersey a couple of hours away from my home.  But we still go camping together every Memorial Day weekend with a couple other guys, and our families still get together every August for another family camping trip.  It’s been fun to see him grow and to see our friendship continue as our families have grown and as we faced the challenges of life.

      This summer during our family camping trip, Brian’s standing in the back on the right side.

      Last night, I had the blessing of meeting up with Brian for dinner.  I’m up in the North Jersey area for a few days of meetings, and it worked out perfect.  We talked and talked for what seemed like minutes but was actually a few hours.  We remembered old times, but we mostly caught up on our families, and we wrestled out loud about some of the things we were dealing with recently.  And our get together made me remember when…I met my friend Brian.

      How has friendship changed your life?  How did you meet one of your good friends?  Do you still keep in touch with any of your friends from high school?