[Liz has been a faithful GAPer ever since arriving in Blacksburg in 2010. Liz had a hand in planning just about every GAP event, whether you knew it or not. And that was basically her style: consistent, humble, selfless service. Never boasting but always willing. Its appropriate, then, for her to be the first to get a farewell post on the blog. -v]
So Viktor asked me if I wanted to write a farewell post, and if you know Viktor, then you don’t ever say “No” when he “volunteers” you for something. He will make you feel guilty for months after, even if you’re on the opposite side of the country! So here goes…
GAP was my Virginia family and helped me to grow as a person, as well as in my faith. When I first moved to Virginia in May 2010, I had just graduated college and moved from Pennsylvania to be an innkeeper at a bed and breakfast. I didn’t know anyone, was in a completely new place surround by “Hokies” and was living on my own for the first time. That’s a lot to adjust to, especially when my boyfriend (husband now!) and best friend was away at Air Force Field Training and I couldn’t even talk to him.
When I first started looking for churches I planned to visit 3 in one day, as they were all at different times. As I was driving from my first service to my second, I passed the Blacksburg Middle School and saw a sign for Northstar. I thought I should stop and check that out, but couldn’t turn in time. So I just thought I’d try again another week, but as I continued to drive to that second service I kept feeling God pull my heart back to that church. So I turned around and never went to try any other church! Sometimes God knows exactly where we need to be, even when I didn’t even have Northstar on my list of churches to visit!
GAP wasn’t active in the summer when I arrived, but once I started attending small group and meeting people, I was making wonderful friends! To be honest I was terribly shy and quiet, but over time I branched out, opened up, and began to piece together a loving and supportive family one by one. With my new family I was able to celebrate holidays, enjoy social events, do outreach to the community, play games, discuss our faith, and invite them to silly birthday parties and have them actually show up and enjoy themselves! They have encouraged me and helped me in my most stressed out, but beautiful time in my life. My closest GAP friends helped me plan, coordinate, and participated in my wedding (which was planned in only 56 days)! As I sit here and type this, I can’t help but shed tears for their beauty because I will never forget their selflessness, patience, and love that they shared with me over those 2 months. I will never be able to repay them for the time, dedication, miles traveled, money spent, and love poured out to make that day one that I will never forget. I am extremely grateful for their friendship and also to God for blessing me with such a wonderful family in Virginia.
And the greatest part of all? Their love, commitment, and friendship spans over 2,560 miles to California, where I am stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base with my husband. Even though we are not physically together, I know they are praying for me and are always at the other end of a phone or Google Hangout if I need them. I can only hope and pray that I will use my experiences in Virginia to be strong and confident in meeting new people here. Granted it will be difficult to find people that are just as amazing as them because we all know that members of GAP are all super awesome! I love you all dearly, miss you bunches, and thank you for the memories we made!
Oh and on the list of suggested topics Viktor gave me to talk about, he included “expose some secrets”. So this brings me to one of my favorite memories of GAP… Luxurious Louie… He is a man that creates mystery and brings a smile to the face of those he visits. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Louie yet, just ask around and you’ll learn all about him. Many of the members who have been in GAP for a long time have viciously accused me of being Louie’s creator, and I’m writing here today to tell you…