Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why We Went to Washington D.C.

The Top Ten Reasons we visited our Nation's Capitol Last Weekend:

  1. Our home in North Carolina is only 485 miles from D.C.--much closer than our home in Spangle.

  2. D.C. is one of my all-time FAVORITE places.

  3. The boys' class took a trip there last January and we could not afford to send them, so we promised them that we would take them during our time at CIT.

  4. History abounds

  5. Freedom is celebrated

  6. Memorials remind us of the great sacrifices that were made for that freedom to be possible.

  7. Museums feed the mind and imagination

  8. 20 hours in the car test the love and patience of our family

  9. Great photo ops.

  10. To see my dear niece who lives there!

The Panda Bear is named Bonsai. He was Chandler's souvenir from the zoo, and is already just like one of the family.

My next post will be about the training we are receiving in Second Language Acquisition...so much fun!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Some Animals at the National Zoo

While we were in Washington D.C. over the weekend, we spent a good, long day at the National Zoo. We are a family of animal lovers and zoo enthusiasts--and the National Zoo in D.C. is a world-class zoo. And FREE!

First on our list were the giant Panda Bears. The National Zoo is one of only two zoos in the United States that even has Pandas. They were amazing.

And here are a couple of kooks posing as Pandas.

Ah, the Bald Eagle--that beautiful symbol of freedom!

And some very strange women posing as bald eagles.

Here is the adorable Prairie Dog, who spends much of his time burrowing in the ground.
Man, there are some real weirdos in Washington D.C.!

The otter is ever playful and sociable...

...sort of like these frolicking sisters.

But the Elephant stands supreme!

We raise our trunks in a mighty salute to our pachyderm friends.

Certainly, the serious family members would have no part in our posing fun...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Washington D.C.

Here is Ben Franklin.
Here I am with my big sister, Barb, posing as Ben Franklin. Because my children wouldn't do it. They were just too cool. Not us.

And thus began our first day in our nation's great capitol. We spent the day hitting the major monuments and memorials on the mall...picnicking on our way, and finishing the day at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. I'll share a few pictures here, and write more later.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


One of our assignments in class this morning was to create a model of our priorities as we go to be missionaries. David and I were in different groups for this task, but we each liked what both of our groups came up with, so I thought that I would share them here.

This one is from David's group (and obviously David's artwork) I love that God is driving the bus, the donors are the wheels (we need them in order to go!), the bus is powered by the Holy Spirit and covered by prayer.

This was the model my group made. We saw God as our ever present root system, feeding all other aspects of everything that we do. We put the spouse and kids on the trunk of the tree because those things remain constant, but other things we put into different seasons, because it seems that each of those other things will take a different level of importance through various seasons of life. The rain drops are prayer.

It was helpful to have to sit and think through what our priorities really are, and how we will keep them straight as we move into the mission field.

On another note, I have been receiving a number of demands for more Gumby creations. Apparently, Gumby has quite a following. I had no idea. So without further ado, may I present Jack Sparrow Gumby:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Wealth of Wonderful Fathers

Some struggle with the concept of God as a loving Father because they have never experienced genuine fatherly love. Me? I'm lousy with it. I am absolutely spoiled by a presence of loving dads in my life.

I have a Dad that provided well, protected fiercely, teased lovingly, and loved lavishly. He is still one of my favorite people in the whole wide world!

I have a Father-in-Law who has always treated me with gentleness and generosity and shares my love for fun and adventure. I delight in every opportunity I get to play in his Montana playground.

I have a husband who fathers my children with amazing care and dedication. He parents with consistency (yet never lacks grace), sincerity (peppered with humor), and optimism (that cannot be daunted). He believes the best for his boys, and loves me by loving them so well.

Today, my hubby received this Father's Day greeting from my Dad via e-mail. David was blessed, and so was I, so I asked them both if I could share it with you. I appreciate not only my father's words to the father of my children, but the fact that he knows David well enough to write such a true and heartfelt sentiment.

Hi David, Happy Father's Day, a true wish for you this year!

You are such a blend of good and capable attributes, enabled by God, to be a real blessing to your family. We think Sons-in-law are pretty special, and as important to us as our daughters have been. Your special, and careful way of being Husband and Father is noted with gratitude by Barbara and me. It is clear that you take "head of family" in a Godly ordained way, and that your approach is just what two sons need to mold them into Godly adulthood. We know the boys will become more like Christ as they become more like their dad!

Of course, we appreciate your including us in the family circle. Many "in-laws" don't have such access to their grandchildren and don't share so many basic values. Thank you for that. You honor Jennifer in special ways, and in appropriate ways. Thanks for that. It has been easy to encourage her and your family because we know it is "right" for all of you.

Happy Father's Day, again! Burris

And may I add, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all you fathers who are living in such a way that your children will not struggle to understand the Father Heart of God.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Culture Shock Game

Yesterday in class we played a card game, only it was MORE than a card game. The boys were included in this exercise, which made it particularly fun for me. To begin we were divided into six groups of four, and family members were not allowed to be in the same group. Each group had their own table, a deck of cards, and instructions on how to play the game Five Tricks. We had three minutes to read the instructions and practice the game before the instructions were taken away and the big tournament began.

The game is played with partners and after each round, the winners moved up a table and the losers stayed where they were. But when the tournament began, a gag order was put into place. No talking or writing was allowed, only gestures for communication. The first round, at our original tables went fairly smoothly. My partner and I won and we moved to the next table.

During the second round, things got very interesting. We still could not talk, and while the game began without incident, it was only moments before silent arguments were breaking out at every table over which team had won each trick.

You see, we were all playing Five Tricks, but each original table had been given a slightly different version of the rules. In one set of rules, diamonds were trump, in another spades were trump. Some had no trump at all. In some instructions aces were high, in others aces were low--minor variations, but they caused a great deal of havoc; especially since we could only communicate through gestures.

Responses were varied across the room. Some held vehemently to their own rules, some tried to comply with others' rules, assuming they had misunderstood the rules in the first place, and some just got angry. My response was different from any of those. My partner and I won the first round (where diamonds were trump) and moved to the next table--where we quickly learned that spades were trump. No big deal. Good to know. We can play that way.

But then we lost, and had to stay at that table. I realized right away that the people coming to our table were probably using a different set of rules, so using gestures, I tried to communicate the trump suit and the value of aces. I never knew if my gestures were completely understood, but it seemed as if the games at our table went fairly smoothly. My motive was just to be able to play, because, well, I like games. And even though in real life I am VERY competitive, I think I figured that winning the card game wasn't ultimate success in this scenario. So I wasn't as intent on winning the game as I was on figuring out the best way to play.

After about four rounds of the tournament, the game was over and we had a classroom discussion about the game as a representation of culture shock. I am sure you can see the parallels and all the implications, including the presence of a language barrier. It was an awesome experience.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Today in CIT our focus is Contextualization. I did not even know this word a month ago. Now I realize it is one of the most important concepts I need to learn in order to share the Gospel in another culture. This is my favorite explanation of Contextualization:

Contextualization attempts to communicate the Gospel in word and deed and to establish the church in ways that make sense to people within their local cultural context, presenting Christianity in such a way that it meets people's deepest needs and penetrates their worldview, thus allowing them to follow Christ and remain within their own culture.

This means that to evangelize another culture we need to purposefully remove our ingrained "American" spin on the Gospel, which often contains symbols, stories, and sentiments that resonate in our culture, but would carry no real meaning in another. In addition, we need to learn and understand their symbols, stories, and sentiments, and when appropriate, use them in communicating the Gospel.

The apostle Paul was a master of Contextualization. If you look at how he shared the Gospel with Jews in Acts 13:13-41, and compare it with how he shared the Gospel with Greeks in Acts 17:18-31 you will see completely different approaches.

To the Jews, he quotes Old Testament prophets, but to the Greeks he quotes their own poets. To each group, Paul used words and symbols that were appropriate to the culture without compromising the Truth of God's word.

Nevertheless, while scripture affirms culture, it does not affirm worldliness. Because man is universally fallen, all cultures have sinful tendencies. For this reason, the Gospel is almost always, in some ways, counter-cultural. Yet, the Gospel has the power to transform and redeem every culture without destroying what is beautiful, unique, and precious in the sight of God.

There is such a thing as OVER-contextualization, which is when we try so hard to adapt to a culture that we actually begin to compromise or water-down the Gospel. When this happens, the result is often syncretization, which is when Christianity is simply absorbed into and blended with pre-existing belief systems. For those of you who read the book, The Life of Pi, this is exactly what the character Pi did. Throughout the book he prays to Mary, Jesus, and Vishnu. He never turned from his Hindu beliefs, he simply added Jesus (and Mary for that matter) to his collection of gods. Needless to say, over-contextualization is not a good thing.

But then again, neither is under-contextualization, which gives no thought or value to cultural differences. With under-contextualization, it is easy for the Gospel message to be entirely miscommunicated. An example of this is when David went with YWAM to Taiwan. He was on a drama team, where the actors all painted their faces white. In an American context, white represents purity, cleanliness and goodness. But in this Asian culture, white is the color of death. Fortunately, a local citizen notified the drama team of this, and they were able to wash their faces before going out to preform before an audience of school aged children, who more than likely would have been frightened by the white faces.

I am so blessed to sit next to a young French woman in class here at CIT. She has lived in the States for eight years, but she and her American husband are returning to France as missionaries. I ask her all sorts of questions throughout our class time. She told me that one American Church tradition that does not translate well to France is the Pot-Luck. Good to know. She also said that the French do not have "church clothes" or the concept of "Sunday Best." The French dress the same (fashionably!) for every setting, whether work, leisure, or church. I cannot tell you how fun it is to have my own personal French culture expert sitting right next me through this experience. I just know God loves me best!

So next Sunday, as you go to church, look for evidence of Contextualization within your own congregation. At my church, for example, the worship team will often play a secular song before the service begins. This is a form of Contextualization. What about having an Easter Egg hunt at church? Or even a Vetran's Day service? Do you see anything that you might consider Over-Contextualization? Are there places where we try too hard to blend in to our culture and we water down the Gospel? What about in your own life? What about mine?

Oh Lord, let us never compromise the Truth of who you are for comfort in our culture.

Okay, Gumby fans...one more, Wierd Al Gumby:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Not My Finest Parenting Moment

Yesterday, after a wonderful worship service at Gold Hills Missionary Baptist Church, we spent some quality time together as a family. During a game of Hearts, Graham and I got in to a little spat. He had a bad attitude. And I, well, being the parent and all, responded in an honorable way (NOT!). Actually I flicked water on him and threw a deck of cards across the table. I know. Very mature. After I stormed out of the room, David (the responsible parent) had a nice, long conversation with Graham.

Within half an hour Mr. Bad Attitude had turned it around, and he came to me to be the first one to apologize. He outdid me in grace. Wow. I am blessed, but I wonder, when will I ever grow up?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Summary of Week 2

What a full week we have had. Classroom topics have included Views of Culture, Animism, What is Truth?, A Study of the Religions in Europe, Kinship & Social Control, Economic Issues, Cross-Cultural Communication, and Risk Management.

In our free-time (and I use that phrase loosely) we memorized scriptures, read articles about everything from Polygamy to Bribery (both of which are standards in many cultures around the world), and worked on learning French. Both David and I had the joy of writing three papers: one on Why I Need the Holy Spirit, one on Missiology (a field of study that combines Theology, Church History, and Ethnography), and one on a Theology of Suffering.

Do you have a Theology of Suffering? We each had to develop one through the reading of First Peter. I was struck by how contrary the scriptures are to the American right to the pursuit of happiness. Christians are promised suffering, and told to rejoice when we face it. Many missionaries here at CIT are going to parts of the world where Christians are persecuted. While we are going to a relatively safe place, we were told that in France it is pretty much common knowledge that Evangelical Christians are under government surveillance. Anyone outside of Catholicism is considered part of a cult and therefore suspect.I honestly have no idea what that means to us, except to say that our recognition of the need for prayer partners back home only continues to grow. Your prayers for us are probably more significant than you or I know.

Lest you worry that we are not having any fun, fear not! On Thursday, in the midst of a thunderstorm (joy to David's heart) we drove into Rutherfordton for a scoop of Doc's Ice Cream.

This photo of David and I reminds me of one of my favorite Gumby creations, meet Fred and Ginger Gumby...aren't they sweet?

On Thursday, when I showed up for class, the Gumbys were missing! I knew immediately that mischief was afoot. Upon more careful observation, I located them. They had been hidden in the classroom and were occupying very influential positions. One Gumby had been promoted to Worship Leader, and the other was holding a prayer vigil over the continent of Europe.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

CIT for Graham and Chandler

Not surprisingly, the boys have made the transition to Cultural Integration Training better than both David and I. They became fast friends with Hank, who lives downstairs from us, (his family will be going to Thailand). Hank is the only other person in their CIT class. Hank and Chandler are like two peas in a pod personality-wise, but Hank is also an artist, so he and Graham share that interest.

Graham and Chan both seem to be enjoying their classes and inform us that they are learning the exact same stuff that we are, only at their level. So far for homework, they have made Travel posters for their place of destination, had to research the answers to questions about everything from dress to food to school systems in France, and memorized Joshua 1:8-9.

In class they have cooked international food (Indian Fry Bread and Fried Rice) and they are making samples of French architecture out of clay: Chan is sculpting the Arch d'Triumph and Graham is sculpting Notre Dame. They put in long days and have good spirits in spite of the heat and humidity.

I love watching them interact with the other adult students, particularly the singles, most of whom are right out of college. Last weekend our classmates had a birthday party for one of the single guys, and the boys and I taught four young adults to play Scum. It was fun to watch my kids play with the "big kids" and be interactive, funny, and engaging.

Their favorite recreational activity is swimming which we do practically every day. Graham is also enjoying working out in the weight room with David. We have no TV in our room, which is no problem since we never watch TV. Our Wii is hooked up in a community room in our building (which does have a T.V.), and all the kids in our unit enjoy playing it. Graham and Chan seem to be very comfortable with community living--they are at ease in social settings, and yet totally able to retreat to our own little room to recharge and get some time alone.

I am continually amazed and blessed by my boys in this journey. Yesterday I ate lunch with their CIT teacher and she said, "They are ready to go!" How incredible is that? How is it possible that 2 kids from Spangle, WA are ready to move to France? Only by God's grace!

Each day after class, the boys stop by our classroom to see the Gumby creation of the day. Today, it was not me, but David, who designed a bicycle for Gumby. Very French, indeed!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Freedom from Self-Absorption

Before I spill my guts about a personal struggle, I'd like you to meet Circus Act Gumby:

Isn't he great? Such balance, such poise, such opportunity to avoid the real subject...

Anyways, I was headed somewhere significant with this post. What was that topic? Oh yeah. Self-absorption. Yuck.

So--here we go. A couple of weeks ago, back in Spokane, in the midst of my whirlwind, I had some crazy busy days. I was trying to get ready to leave my house for seven weeks, to farm out our pets, to make arrangements for our mail and for our lawn to get mowed. Details. Millions of details. Details on steroids. During that time, I did have a few brief encounters with friends who, needless to say, had stuff going on in their lives as well. As I was talking to one friend, I found myself struggling to really listen to her because the details of MY life were screaming for attention. Feeling slightly overwhelmed, I explained to her that I was "unavoidably self-absorbed" at the moment. She graciously accepted, even validated my admission.

But the Lord had something else to say. Even as the words were coming out of my mouth, I felt conviction in my heart. The still, small voice whispered, "You ARE self-absorbed, but it IS avoidable."

I am amazed at how loving the Lord is when He speaks truth into my life. He is so gentle, and His kindness truly does lead me to repentance. I spent the car ride home that day praying for anyone BUT David, Jenn, Graham, and Chandler. I realized that MY family, MY needs, and MY interests had been consuming my heart and my mind like a rabid disease. By praying for others, I found freedom from my self-absorption. And oh, how I love being set free.

I am now (by the leading and power of the Lord!) taking time each day to intentionally pray for others--not so much because THEY need my prayers, but because I need to be continuously set free from the tide that is constantly trying to pull me back into Me-Land. The old self feeds off of self-absorption, the new creation thrives when my focus is FIRST on Jesus, and then on the people and things that HE directs me to see and care for.

All of this to say, it would be my joy and honor if you would share your prayer requests with me. I do not have any great gift of intercession, nor do I claim to be a mighty prayer warrior. I am simply a person who believes in a God who calls us to community and asks us to bear one another burdens. He is a God whose culture is completely counter to our own. He is a God who promises that when we lose our life, we will find it. And even through the world cries, "ME FIRST!" I believe true freedom is found when we grasp that in the Kingdom economy, the last shall be first--and the one who becomes least is the greatest.

So please tell me how I can pray for you!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Since Union Mills is teeny tiny, to buy groceries, go to church, find a restaurant, etc., we must travel 15 miles to the blooming metropolis of Rutherfordton (pop. 4,131). If you call it Rutherfordton, they know you are from out of town, because to locals, its just "Ruff'ton."

Main street in downtown Rutherfordton is quaint, complete with Doc's Ice Cream Shoppe, which is actually owned by the town doctor. All of the ice cream is homemade right there in the store, and scoops are sold by weight--7 ounces each to be exact. Sample tastes are handed out on tongue depressors, and they'll let you sample every flavor if you like. I fully expect to become a regular at Doc's this summer. So far I've only had the Butter Pecan (a choice my Dad would've made) but it was DELICIOUS!

Last night we went to town to celebrate a classmate's birthday at Mi Pueblito--the Mexican Restaurant. While in town we picked up a free copy of the Rutherford Weekly. If we didn't already know we were in the Bible Belt, we would've found out by reading this paper. Just about every advertisement quotes a Bible verse, and there is even a weekly column entitled, "Let's Talk Bible." David was naturally drawn to the weather section, which was written by Robert Gamble in a folksy tone and was charmingly called, "Bob's Carolina Weather."

Our favorite part of the Rutherford Weekly, though, was an advertisement for a concert, which we simply had to include here for your viewing. David, being a music major and all, has sung in many a quartet. All quartets, whether string, brass, or vocal, have one unifying feature, since, by definition, a quartet is, well...never mind. Just tell me. What is wrong with this picture?

And I thought they made this stuff up!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cultural Analysis and Ethnocentrism

Our topics in class yesterday were Cultural Analysis and Ethnocentrism. Studies have shown that all cultures are ethnocentric; that is, each culture believes its own ways are right and best. By extension, we can then assume that other cultrues are wrong, when in reality, they are simply different. Our homework for last night was to write a paper reflecting on our topics from the day. Here is what I wrote:

A friend of mine who had just returned from Italy was telling me all about her trip when she shared a cultural interaction that I have never forgotten. My friend’s tour was lead by an Italian woman, who, after spending a few days observing the attitudes and hearing the comments of her all American tour group, gently noted, “Believe it or not, not everyone wishes that they were an American.”

After today’s teaching on cultural styles and ethnology, I wish I could’ve been a fly on the wall observing all of the behaviors that prompted that tour guide’s statement. I’d like to think that if I had been in the group, the guide would not have needed to make such an obvious declaration. And yet, even though I wasn’t there, in some strange way, I feel a little offended by it. I mean, I do not really think that everybody should want to be an American. Or do I?

Apparently, I am as ethnocentric as the next person. Perhaps we should start a support group:

“Hello, my name is Jenn, and I am ethnocentric.”

(Group response in unison)“Hi Jenn.”

“It’s been 8 months since my last cross-cultural experience. Unless you count my trip to the Asian grocery last week….”

I do not want to be ethnocentric; and yet, I do not want to pretend to be something or someone that I am not. Where, I wonder, is the balance between being, as the French say, l'aise dans sa propre peau (comfortable in my own skin) and being, as Paul says, “all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” Is there such a balance? Is it wrong to seek such a balance?

On the one hand, cross-cultural living may be an opportunity to once again die to myself, and thereby become more like Jesus. On the other hand, when Jesus came to the earth, He didn’t deny his heavenly culture. He became that 200% person that Lingenfelter wrote about—100% human AND 100% divine. Lingenfelter suggests that following Jesus’ example, we can become a 150% person, which for me would mean that I can become 75% American and 75% French. I grasp this conceptually, but wonder what must be done to actually achieve it.

I really do LOVE other cultures. Actually that is not entirely true—many cultures have challenged me to the point of utter frustration. How about this: in every culture I have visited, I have felt a genuine love for the people, even if their cultural norms rubbed me the wrong way. Even when their ways were very different from my own, I found a joy in hearing their stories, a hope in hearing their dreams, and sadness in hearing their pain. That is why the cross-cultural version of I Corinthians 13 blessed me so deeply. I do believe that the love of God is the ultimate bridge to any person from any culture. I may not know the nuances of socially accepted behaviors (though I will work to learn them) but I do know the God who created and loves us all—perfectly. I will put my trust in Him. He is the ultimate tour guide, and while it is certainly true that not everyone wishes they were an American, everyone is born with a desire for God—and with it a wish for a heavenly home. This world is not our home, we’re just a passin’ through. How I long to find myself in the midst of fellow sojourners—from many nations—looking to the day when together we make that ultimate cross-cultural move—to our home in Glory!

Well that's it...unless you want to meet Surfer Dude Gumby:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Higher Learning

While I love to learn, being back in a classroom setting is challenging every fiber of my being. I have grown accustomed to my autonomy, which is virually non-existent in my current life condition. Interestingly enough, part of our discussion today was about giving up our rights. Americans LOVE their rights. Followers of Christ have no earthly rights. You heard me--NO RIGHTS. When we decide to follow Christ, we give up all our rights in this world, including:
  • the right to what I consider a normal standard of living
  • the right to ordnary safeguards of good health
  • the right to regulate my private affairs as I wish
  • the right to privacy
  • the right to my own time (YES, this IS the one that challenges me the most!)
  • the right to a normal romance
  • the right to a normal home life
  • the right right to live with people of my choice
  • the right to feel superior
  • the right to run things

Most of us have sung the song "I Surrender All," sincerely meaning it in our hearts. But I am realizing that the rubber is about to meet the road. Before I only had to SAY that I would surrender all to Jesus. Freely give it to Him. Now I am having to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Am I really willing to surrender my dominion over how I spend my time? Well, I want to be willing, but instead I have been whining:

"Why do classes start so early?"

"Why do we have so much homework?"

"Why do we have to write a paper?"

"When do we get to play? or have fun?"

Whine, whine, whine. I am not a happy camper. On the flip side, the stuff we are learning is awesome, helpful, and important. I need this stuff. Please pray that I will let go of my right to choose how I will spend my time each day, and submit to the plans that God has for me in this place.

In the meantime, while David faithfully takes notes in his binder throughout every session, I play with the toys that have been graciously provided for people like me. Today I played with Gumby and a slinky. But I decided this was not Gumby, but Gumbilina, since I made one slinky into a tutu and another into an afro. Meet my new best friend: Ballet Gumbilina

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sister Weekend

I am finding myself at a loss for words. Well, not a loss, but a definite need to tread softly. After all, how does one tell about a cherished Sister Weekend without destroying the mystery or divulging the secrets of our annual rendezvous? Such a dilemma.

On the one hand, my weekends with my sisters produce some of the silliest moments of my entire life. On the other hand, the time is almost sacred. We always laugh, we always cry, we always sing, play games, and drink a lot of Dr. Pepper. We eat, we shop, we pray. We make few plans, and choose rather to meander through our time together experiencing each moment as an event in and of itself. The togetherness is the thing.

This year we went to Sunriver, OR. The weather was perfect for bike rides to the village and hours of browsing. At night we watched chick flicks and played Quibbler—a card game that is a cross between scrabble and gin. I am probably the most competitive, but I think it’s safe to say that none of us like to lose, so the real challenge of game time is remembering to be nice to each other in the midst of fierce competition. We don’t always succeed. But we try.

At one time or another, someone’s feelings inevitably get hurt. Harsh words are spoken. A joke is made at someone’s expense. Tensions rise, and then—since we are sisters—grace and love finally win out.

And isn’t that the best thing about sisters? We know each others’ worst faults, we’ve seen each others’ most embarrassing moments, we’ve heard each others’ harshest words; but these things do not define us for each other. Rather, we choose to delight in each others’ greatest gifts, to celebrate each others’ victories, and to remember the kind words that were spoken in love. Like chaff, the rest is blown away, and we cling only to the kernels of goodness we find in each other.

I am always encouraged by Robin’s tiger-like loyalty, warmed by Barbara’s genuine interest, inspired by Keri’s infectious joy, and grieved by the absence of Sharon’s zany sense of humor. I want to be just like them when I grow up. I always have wanted to be just like them.