Long lost pen pals meet in Houston for first time

HOUSTON – “It's so good to meet you. Hahahah,” say Kimberly Jennings and Dawn Abborn simultaneously to each other.

Jennings and Abborn have been friends for more than 40 years, yet today is the first time they are meeting in person.

“I saw her straight away. I knew her straight away,” Abborn said.

Abborn is from Australia, and when she was 10 years old, Jennings sent a request from her rural hometown in Nebraska to the Northern Territory asking to be paired with a pen pal.

“There was only about 15 kids in my school and we didn't go into town very often and I was lonely. And my mom said, 'Well I had a pen pal when I was your age and we should get you a pen pal,'” Jennings said.

“It got sent to Alexandria Station, where I was living, because it was probably one of the most remote schools, and the school teacher brought it down and gave it to me,” Abborn said. “We were really excited. Mum and dad even were excited.”

Similar to Jennings, Abborn lived in a rural part of her country.

Specifically, she lived on a station -- or what we refer to as a ranch.

“I didn't have a lot of friends. I lived on a station. I was sometimes the only child on the station, so yeah, I thought of her as a friend,” Abborn said.

About 30 years ago, they lost touch, and only found each other again in August through Facebook. It didn't take long before the plan to finally meet took shape.

“Well at first I was like, 'Am I going to recognize her?'” Jennings said.

“I was very nervous,” Abborn said.

“I kind of waved, we waved at each other and then I don't remember what happened. I was too excited,” Jennings said of their first meeting.

“Life's very short, so if you get an opportunity to do something do it,” Abborn said.

Abborn will be spending the next week in Houston with her husband. During that time, she plans to eat a little Tex-Mex and barbecue, visit Galveston and catch up on 30 years of friendship with her pen pal.