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I met Aneta Griggs 13 years ago when I was speaking at a youth conference in Poland. After a general session, many of the teenagers gathered around one night to talk about life in their country and what life was like in the USA. I remember her well. She was quite young, just 18 years old, but her English was extremely advanced. I remember telling the group of young people that night that if they ever came to the US for a visit, they could stay with our family. Everyone laughed. “What an offer,” they must have thought, “but how could we ever get to America?”

But Aneta was different. She immediately began figuring out how she could raise the money for her trip. She made it happen. She came not once but three times. We were so happy. While she was with us, my daughter-in-law took her to New York to go shopping. My wife took her to California. Our friends took her to see the Backstreet Boys. We taught her to drive. She got an American driver’s license. My friend and I took her skydiving. She rode in a race car 130 miles an hour around the Atlanta International Raceway. We took her on a motorcycle trip to the North GA mountains. She acted in a drama at our church. She helped out some business owner friends at their company. She went on a youth camp retreat with us. She became our Polish daughter.

Six years ago, my wife and I and two of our best friends flew to Poland to be at Aneta’s wedding. She had fallen in love with an Englishman named Matt. They were marrying and then moving to the eastern coast of England. Their wedding was stunning. The food and festivities at a Polish wedding were amazing. We celebrated with them and then they headed to their honeymoon. We have not seen Aneta in six years. Until this weekend… Jane and I arrived in Lowenstoft Friday night. We have spent the last few days with Matt and Aneta and their two year old daughter, Lidia. It has been wonderful. This young Polish girl has grown into an amazing woman. Her English is now perfect. She is a teacher. She is a mom. She is a wife. We are so proud of her. Visiting in her and Matt’s home has been a highlight of our trip. It has reminded us what a special lady Aneta is. What is it in some people that just separates them from the pack? Why was she able to make the trips to the US work when others dreamed about it but could never figure out how to do it? I don’t know the answer to those questions. I just know there is something unusual in certain people that allows them to live life a little larger than most others. Aneta has it for sure. Knowing her has certainly made our life bigger, too.

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