La Amistad

July 17, 2011

Sometimes when I reflect back on my time in Spain, I remember the traveling and the allure of new, unexplored cities. My mind will scroll through images of landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, sparkling at midnight, or the tiny town in Switzerland, where I had to oink my way to a pork sausage, or the dusty medina in Fes, where I was bestowed the unfortunate moniker of “Big Lips Girl.”

Sometimes when I reflect back on my time in Spain, I remember the metro, the street art that accompanied my walks home, the bittersweet taste of Bacardi and Fanta that I learned to tolerate, and my all-time favorite cafe, La Clandestina.

But always when I reflect back on my time in Spain, I remember the hard-fought friendship I had with S, a friendship that endured monumental life changes, and the otherwise lack of meaningful community. I remember the refreshment of our weekly Bible Studies, the joy of having someone to share jazz shows and kebabs with, and the sheer survival instinct her company gave me strength to cling to when the going got tough. Because I also remember how hard it was to build relationships and how prickly the sting to never truly feel welcome or at home for a year.

When I reflect back on my time in Spain, I remember how loneliness would physically ache in the pit of my stomach. Eating dinner on a bath towel on the dusty floor of your bedroom could not have been spun into something remotely novel without a friend. Getting trapped on a train alone while crowds observed you from outside with rapture but were stirred to action with considerably less conviction would not have been laughable without a caring roommate back at the flat to return home to. Literally starving and finding dinner to be whole stringy rabbits and cannolis filled with dog food would not have been bearable without a fellow commiserater to scrimp change with in order to buy fruit snacks from the vending machine for second dinner. I know I would not have survived my year abroad without S. Her meaningful friendship was a lifeline and a saving grace.

Now as I try to imagine what life will be like in Paraguay, I pray, perhaps most frequently of all, that God will provide life-giving community and sustaining friendships. Call me selfish or narrow-minded, but I am not sure I will be able to thrive otherwise. I am not scared of living in a developing country or being faraway for a long period of time, but I am afraid of loneliness.

Let me just say though that this entire journey has been one of sheer providence. I have been so humbled by the way God has entirely flung open this door of opportunity, providing far above and beyond for every need along the way. I have no reason to be nervous, and out of this, I have faith that He will surround me with individuals who will be generous with their hearts and souls. I can only hope to pray for the chance to do the same for them in return.

Pray with me, my friends.

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