Our ward is transitory- to say the least. Right now about 1/3 of the ward is made up of married students who have come to Philadelphia for anywhere from 1 year to 8 depending on their area of study. Since John and I have been in the 1st ward since 2001 we have seen a lot of people come and go. It is amazing how living in the east affects our relationships with the people we meet at church. So many of us are far from home so we are not only a congregation, they are our friends, our advisors, our substitute family, our childrens' friends, our preschool groups, our teachers, pretty much our everything. We have met many really incredible people in our ward and I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to meet them, but there is one major problem making all of these great friends: none of them stay. So every summer we say goodbye to more of our friends who have finished school and are off to start a job in the real world or to more schooling somewhere else. My heart breaks every year. This year Samuel's best friend is moving away and I fear his heart will break right along with mine.
The good news: although our friends leave, the lessons they have taught us and the examples they set for us remain. Most of the people in the ward now are too new to remember Michelle Burk, Chelise Pykles, Brooke Burgess, Christina Berg, Emily Gray, Erin Meeker, Kera Tucker, Kim Cook and Erin Knowles to name a few. But I remember them. Each one of them have made an irreversable difference in my life and who I am striving to be today.
We are still trying to sell our house and move to another, nearby suburb. This move will include a change of congregation. We will no longer be in the city ward. It has been a difficult decision and one over which John and I still agonize. However, we decided it will be the best for our family in the long run. We will miss the amazing people we leave behind. I don't know that we will ever be in a ward with this many high-caliber people again... hopefully I'm wrong, but I doubt it. But I will carry along with me the lessons that I learned from all of the friends who have left before us as well as the examples of Stephanie Smith, Christina Howden, Heather Wakefield, Heather Gull, Rebecca Sloan, Donna Judkins, Eryn Horton, Annalee Waddell, Adrienne Murray, Jennifer Clark, Kate Buxton and the many other sisters and friends who are leaving this year or staying behind to welcome the next group of students.
Disclaimer: When I mention the name of the wives, I am including their husbands in my thoughts too...it would just take forever to list EVERYBODY. We really have had some exceptional husbands in the ward too!
Disclaimer II: Do not feel dejected if I did not list your name. I did not want the post to last forever AND my brain doesn't function so well these days. Consider the list to include all of you wonderful people I know from church. I truly believe I have learned something from each and every one of you!!!