Friend Chronicles.

February 15, 2012

For Mi Esperanza’s second ever Encuentro de Jovenes (Young Adult Group) this past Saturday, people gathered at the Paraguayan pastor’s house for hamburgers. Everyone sat around the pool area, and proceeded to spend the entire evening telling jokes in Guarani, the predominant indigenous language spoken in Paraguay.

Obviously, I didn’t understand a single word. Which, you know, is totally a great time.

As the night progressed, Guarani slowly consumed the conversation and soon, not only were the jokes in a completely foreign tongue, so was the rest of the dialogue. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly take any more fun, the racist Asian jokes (half in derogatory Spanish and half Guarani) started. People pointed and laughed and ching chonged me to my face. The ignorant racism was no new experience, so while I was angry, I felt more fiercely homesick for real friends and safe community back at home than anything else.

Then C looked at me during a lull in the jesting. I was relieved to be briefly recognized aside from being the butt of a joke. Maybe he was finally about to stand up for me? Or at the very least include me in something?

Instead, he recited (barely because he was laughing so hard): “How do you say car accident in Japanese?”

To which Y chimed in: “LAUREN HUI,” and everyone doubled over in belly-aching laughter.

That was the one joke I understood the whole night, and I definitely went home and cried about it.

Call me an over-sensitive baby, but finding friends has been so. stinking. hard, (prior to this incident, I considered C and Y the closest things I had to Paraguayan friends) and this is not the only ridiculous example. That first friend I was so excited about meeting at COICOM? I invited her to lunch and she proceeded to case my entire apartment and then tried to grill me about when she could come back with her “friends.”

Everything I do here is, to a certain degree, an uncomfortable struggle, and though it is unpleasant, I did come here expecting that. I knew ministry–be it teaching or getting orphaned teenagers to open up or even just praying in Spanish–would be difficult. But when simply hanging out is a frustrating and stressful venture too, being thousands of miles away from home becomes even more overwhelmingly isolating.

I guess though, at the end of the day, I still triumph because I have Christ by my side. He is my portion and He is enough. I have a fantastic support system in San Diego, Boston, and various other corners of the world. And I do have these snugglebugs:

They give me plenty of love. And to them, Big Nornen/Neno-Neno does not mean car accident. In any language. Maybe that is all I can ask for.


2 Responses to “Friend Chronicles.”

  1. tim Says:

    Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

    Remember when Pastor Jackson challenged us with memorizing James? Press on sista, press on.

  2. Jen Qiu Says:

    I sympathize with feeling left out (that’s the workplace for me, where I spend most of my life unfortunately). Sorry you’re feeling lonely. Praying God sense a girlfriend you can really connect with soon.

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