This is one of the most common questions that I get from my friends back home, my family, and visiting volunteers. Before moving to El Salvador 4 1/2 years ago, I had lots of friends. Close friends from college, moms from my daughter's preschool class, friends at church, and childhood friends that I still connected with. Grieving those friendships was a process that I went through transitioning from our "old life."
In El Salvador, friendships are important and it's a small country where everyone seems to already know everyone else. Breaking in as a foreigner has been tough. But when people ask me that question, it is an opportunity to reflect on all the rich friendships that I have in my life because we came to live in El Salvador.
I have missionary mom friends who have been here for as long as we have, and others who are new arrivals. I have friends on the Parent Committee at the international school where my children attend, I have friends at church, and friends who co-labor with us in the ministry.
I have friends that I only speak Spanish too, and I have friends because I don't have to speak Spanish to them. I have learned from my friends about politics, the country, and the places they have come from. I have friendships that have formed quickly and deeply, and others that have grown slowly with time.
Yes, I do have friends and there are so many days that I need them. Homesick days, like yesterday, where I longed for an understanding ear or an encouraging conversation. I got that yesterday as we joined with other missionaries for a 4th of July cookout, and then later in the evening as we celebrated the birthday of a dear Salvadoran friend. I was reminded of the rich diversity I have found in the relationships around me.
God knows what He is doing when He connects us with our friends. Maybe it's for a moment, or a season, or for life. He uses those friends to bless us, encourage us, and remind us that He cares. So I thank Him for this life I lead, and for the friends that walk with me through it.
What about you? Has it been difficult to connect with friends on the field? Have you been surprised by unlikely friendships that you have formed?