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Far from Home

I didn't have the money to return to Wichita often, and I missed my friends…

A woman waits in an airport, unaware her oldest friend is nearby.

I felt a pang of sadness watching the farms and fields of Kansas shrink outside my window as the plane rose into the sky.

My visit to my hometown of Wichita from college in San Diego had been painfully short.

My cousin had passed away, and the cheapest flight I could get to attend his funeral routed me through Minneapolis, Detroit and Memphis—22 hours of travel for only 13 short hours at home.

Just enough time to pay my respects and see my family, but not enough to even call any of my friends, let alone see them.

I didn’t have the money to return to Wichita often, and I missed my friends back home, especially my best friend, Sherry, and our crew from church.

We’d sung in the choir, gone roller skating, worked in youth groups together ever since middle school. A trip home without seeing them, especially when I needed comfort so badly, just felt incomplete.

I walked slowly through the Detroit airport to my connecting flight in a desolate mood. Yet an­other long layover, dozing fitfully in waiting-area chairs and eating bad airport food.

“Carlota!” I heard someone shout behind me.

Was someone shouting for me? Or for a different Carlota? I wondered. Who would know me here, a thousand miles from home?

I turned around. “Sherry! I was just thinking about you!” I exclaimed, amazed. “I was just back in Wichita for my cousin’s funeral. I wished I could have stayed long enough to see you and the gang.”

We gave each other a big hug. “When’s your flight?” Sherry asked.

I rolled my eyes. “Not for another two hours,” I said.

“Walk me to my gate,” Sherry said. “We’ll catch up.” Sherry explained that she was here because our former pastor, who had moved to Detroit, had been honored in a special ceremony there. “Our flight back to Wichita has been delayed.”

“Our flight?” I asked.

Sherry pointed toward the gate. There, gathered in the waiting area, were all of my old church crew, in town for the ceremony—and to give me the comfort I so longed for.

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