Monday, May 25, 2015

long found friends

The year was 1995 (give or take), and I was sitting at my desk in Memorial Dorm, staring at my computer screen, puzzled. (That put me in the privileged 32% of Americans who owned computers in 1995). The email was addressed to me, using the email address I had acquired when I left home that fall for my first semester of college. (If you must know, I signed up for my own account primarily to keep in touch with my parents.)

From: ?

Frankly, I don't remember who it was from, but I knew I did not know her. She greeted me by name, sounding casual, and referring to something I was supposed to know about, but didn't.

I could have hit "delete," but I decided to reply. I think perhaps you have the wrong email address. My name is Carmen, but I don't think I know you . . .

Then she replied, embarrassed. Oops! I was trying to write my friend, Carmen. Her email address and yours are almost exactly the same. I just forgot to put a "1" behind "Carmenjoy."

And that was it.
Or so it could have been.

But this was not the last email I received for "the other Carmen Joy." At some point, I decided I should introduce myself, since we shared the same first and middle names. And so I did.


As it turned out, Carmen Joy and I had a lot in common besides our names and (almost) our email addresses. Not only was the other Carmen a Christian, but she lived in the Pacific Northwest and she was thinking about attending Multnomah! She was interested in missions, too. We kept in touch the way all good friends did in the 90's—we shared email forwards. Through those "forwards" we learned a lot about each other.

My life's journey took me to the Philippines, North Carolina, and Illinois before circling back to the Northwest. Carmen's brought her to New Hampshire, and then to join YWAM in (of all places) Denver, the city of my birth. For years I received her prayer letters and she received ours. But in spite of her trips home to the Northwest and our trips home to Denver, we never met in person. Until last week.

Carmen is back in the Northwest for a season, about an hour north of us. I suggested we meet for lunch on campus at Multnomah. And so we did.

Carmen Joy Imes and Carmen Joy Matson meet at last! Photo: C Imes

It was just as wonderful to meet Carmen in person as I suspected it would be! After almost 20 years of long-distance friendship and mutual inspiration, I'm delighted to have had the opportunity to talk face-to-face. Carmen's life has been a sweet aroma -- someone who loves Jesus and pours out her life for his kingdom. She's taken the gospel all around the world (literally), investing in one group of young YWAM students after another, sharing her heart, her home, and her faith. Her emails and blog posts always point me to Jesus. I'm eager to see what adventures God has in store for her next!

Life is richer with like-minded friends to share the journey. I'm so glad Carmen's friends accidentally emailed me almost 20 years ago. Who could have guessed the sweet fruit of that "mistake"!?


  1. This is so awesome!! Love it!

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