Jun 17, 2008


For the second year in a row I have been surprised by a friendship of unexpected depth. Last year, it was Grant Graves. This year it was Mai Rhea Odiyar. Our friendship grew up around me, almost unnoticed, rooted in early morning runs, REAL rehearsals, Capture the Flag camraderie, and school trips to Australia and Palau. It was nourished in simple passing conversations during drives to and from the gym and in the quiet after a good run. And one day, just a little more than a week ago, I woke up and realized that this friend was about to be uprooted, transplanted to grow somewhere else. And I realized that the gap she would leave behind would be much larger than I might have guessed.

Mai gave two years of her life to Saipan and I think Saipan gave her a lifetime of love and memories in return. She was one of the original rock stars, and the only one that returned to stay for a second full year. Because of her longevity there's much I've said about Mai already--but it was only this year that I learned how Mai's unique qualites made for a valuable friend. In June of last year, I wrote about Mai's brave decision to stick to her commitment to stay in Saipan a second year, even when all her friends were leaving (and based on her own reflection on the growth she experienced this past year, I'm betting she's glad she did). In November I included her on my list of inspirational heroes in my life. Since that time I've come to know Mai's characteristics of commitment and depandablity as hallmarks of her friendship as well. I learned that Mai could be counted on not just at work, but also to be there to with a listening ear and a supportive word. I learned that she was committed not just to her missionary tasks but also to being a faithful and trustworthy friend. Mai is a person of her word, on a personal as well as professional level. If she said she was going to run the next morning, I knew I had to be there. She would never skip out on me and I knew I couldn't skip out on her.

And now Mai is gone--off on the next Big Adventure of her life--a journey that will take her from Canada to Orlando and back around to this side of the globe to Thailand, in January. I know that she will be to her new friends and colleagues what she's been to us, a solid and dependable presence; a faithful and trustworthy friend.

Mai--have a blast next year! There's much to look forward to and one very fortunate "YR" to discover :) Keep running, stay strong, love God, live life to the very fullest. Though you, my friend, are gone, the friendship remains and for that I am glad.

A great picture of Mai, Jess and. . .Judith's torso?!?

Mai--looking pretty good for having been up for 31 straight hours! (And she hasn't even begun the 24 hour long haul to North America!) She had the most amazing amount of energy the last day she was in Saipan. I kept asking her if she was tired, and the answer was always "Nope, I'm fine!"

Me, Mai, and Babs at the airport on the day of Mai's departure, Tuesday, June 10, 2008.

My buddy, Mai. "So. . .are we running tomorrow?" Yes. Yes, we are. :)

Mai and Judith's Long Walk

Mai and Judith, friends and roomates on Saipan for the past year were fortunate enough to be able to fly out together, not parting ways until they reached Portland, Oregon. I'm sure it softened the pain of leaving a little bit. They left Tuesday, June 10, 2008.

Babs and Carol at our early morning breakfast with Judith and Mai. Between the time of Jess's departure at 4:00 A.M. at Judith's and Mai's flight at close to 9 A.M. a group of us went out to breakfast at the only restaurant on Saipan that stays open 24 hours--a greasy spoon called "J's". While the food was passable and we were all ridiculously exhausted, the company was unparalleled and our time together, precious.

So I wanna thank the One who leads us
For the way that He has led
For the times we’ve spent together
And the times we ain’t seen yet
And still somehow this is a path we must both walk alone
And we can’t measure the distance
But we’ll treasure every step
And I know His love will give us
The strength we need to press on
So let’s hold on to Him and He will show us our way home

--Mitch McVicker & Rich Mullins, "New Mexico"

1 comment:

Mai said...

I'm sitting all the way over here in Canada, tears running unchecked down my face, as I reminisce about all the good times. I miss you, your friendship, all those conversations, teaching next door to you, living at the end of your sidewalk..... I'm sad that such good things must come to an end - but, like we talked about on that final day together, at least we have the hope of heaven. I can't wait for that!