For a missionary or in fact anyone who moves around the world for work or family reasons, there are some settling in processes that take more hard work than others. Loneliness can make or break your ability to stick it out long term ... especially early on as you don't know many people in your new home-town and at the same time you can be thinking of all the people you've left behind.
Making the effort in a time of transition can be difficult but making the most of every opportunity really does pay off! A good friend of mine, who isn't a Christian, moved to a new town when she got married 7 years ago and having been there a couple of months was really struggling. In a phone conversation we had, she commented on how she could see the benefits of being able to plug straight into a church in a new location and have an instant network of people at your finger tips!
In the (almost) 6 years that I've been married, we've already moved to new locations twice and being able to find a church and friends through that has been so valuable. Also 'using' my girlies to get involved in mothers and toddlers groups and meeting other mum's has been great for me while my husband is at work. These new friendships have given me the opportunity to see where I can help out others too.
One thing I have learnt is that instead of going out to 'find' a friend ... going out to 'be' a friend is much more effective. If you become the friend to someone else that you would want yourself, it is more likely to be reciprocated and will develop a more balanced friendship in the end. (Not that I'm any expert on the subject ... but I do have a huge circle of friends, so I must be doing something right!). As a family we also try to invite 'new' friends round for dinner in order to get to know people better too. So for a large chunk of our first year here in America we invited different families, maybe once a fortnight to invest in these friendships.
We've been here for two years now and I am pleased to say that I have made many new friends, some of whom will be lifetime buddies that I will keep in touch with wherever our mission adventures take us. Now when we return home exhausted from vacation or from being on furlough back in the UK we often find the 'house fairies' have been visiting in our absence! Maybe the house has been hoovered or there are freshly laundered sheets on the bed, chocolates on the pillow, fresh flowers in a vase, a welcome home card or a fridge that has been topped up with just enough food to tie us over til we can get to the store. It is fun to find and just as fun to do for others ... leaving you with a fuzzy warm glow knowing that you are loved or have been able to show someone that you love them!
Just this week I had a phone call from another friend here, who asked if I was home and said she'd be round 10 minutes later as she had something for me. Mystified I hung up the phone and waited. Sure enough 10 minutes later she arrived with a freshly baked homemade apple pie, saying 'I made two and thought I know just who I'm going to give this to'!!
|As you can see ... it was delicious!|
'House fairy and apple pie' friendship is the best! Being intentional when we first arrived here makes for fun times now and people that I will miss loads next time we move and are once again the newbies in a new town!