Steph and I going to a Swing Dancing Party - this either 1996 or 1997. Our shoes are ridiculous!
Continuing in the order that I befriended my bridesmaids, Steph is next! Now.... whenever I describe Steph to someone, I generally preface the description by saying she's the coolest person I know. By that I mean NO OFFENSE to all of the other people in my life - who are all cool in their own ways - but it really is true. :)
Let's start at the very beginning. Steph and I can trace the time we've known each other back to pre-school age (or Kindergarten at the very least). We grew up in the same Church, and so we each have memories of the other all throughout Elementary even though we weren't really "friends" and definitely did not go to the same school.
In fact, Steph and I both sang in the Children's Choir at our church, and every year we would put on a production with a Biblical message and a contemporary story. When we were in 2nd Grade, I was selected to play the lead, Grimey, the Black Sheep in our play. Yes - we dressed up like sheep. And NO, Steph was not happy that I got "her" role. In 3rd Grade, our roles were reversed when she got to play "Kitty O'Bey", the badass Scottish kitty with an attitude. I was not happy - I wanted that part! I've found a photo of me as "Grimey" - I'll have to find one of Steph as Kitty O'Bey sometime soon!
That's me as "Grimey" in WE LIKE SHEEP, Spring 1990.
Fast forward to 6th Grade (Fall 1994). We suddenly find ourselves in the same school, and Steph becomes one of my best friends in a flash. Sixteen years later, she is still one of my best friends. Although I don't get to see her very often, whenever we see each other it's the same as it was last time - the relationship is consistent!
So here's why Steph is the coolest person I know. Not only did she graduate with Honors and dual Bachelors degrees in Biology and Chemistry, but she also holds a Masters Degree in Chemistry. Steph has spent the last three years teaching Science at the American School in Cairo, Egypt. This summer she moved to South Africa to begin teaching at Bridges of Hope Academy. You can read about her adventures at Bridges of Hope here:
I was able to visit her in Cairo her first year there, and it changed my life. Because Steph was living there, I was able to have a more authentic visit to Egypt - visiting places that many tourists never get a chance to see: Garbage City, The Cave Churches and the Cities of the Dead. How it changed my life is subject matter for a different day, but just know that it did.
Steph (on the Right) and I (on the left) riding our camels to the Pyramids at Giza. We DID do some touristy activities while in Egypt!
One of my favorite Steph memories, though, was while we were on vacation in Costa Rica the summer before she moved to Egypt. It was a rainy afternoon, and she and Allie spent it playing soccer on the beach with the locals. I don't play soccer, and I didn't play that afternoon, but watching them play in the rain was magical. She played barefoot, and had nasty blisters from the sand afterwards, but her smile and her joy were infectious. To me, that's what Steph's about - finding the joy through the blisters, bruises and rain.
So, that's why Steph is the coolest person I know. Steph, I love you, and cannot wait to see you when you fly back in a few short weeks. I am so honored that you would travel that distance to be a part of my special day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Steph and I in Costa Rica - August, 2007