I’ve always wanted that life-long friend. Maybe you have one. She knows your past, how you grew up in a setting that influenced you both—in one way or another. She has celebrated the joys and mourned the hardships. She encouraged you when you were down and simply sat with you when you didn’t know what to do. She pointed you back to Jesus, always. It was hard for her to watch you move across the world, but she knew the Lord would do mighty things through you, so she said “see you later” with tears streaming down her face and a huge, goofy smile on her face.
I’ve mourned many times over that I don’t have a friend like that. Many a journal pages are filled with lamentations, wondering why.
And then we moved overseas. Oh, Lord, how will I find a friend when my team changes every 9 months? How can I keep pouring into people, starting over again and again, knowing they’ll only be here a short time? Why can’t I just have that one friend I can call on, day or night, that understands exactly what I’m experiencing?
Every time. Every time, He reminds me that He is that friend. I know, I know…we already know that. But do we really embrace it? Do we grab hold of the fact that He knows the loneliness we feel? Do we remember that He, too, was alienated from everyone? Can we trust Him when He says He really has experienced all that we have, are, and will experience?
When I cling to Him, once again, broken over earthly friendships, He wraps me up in His arms and provides all I need. Often, He goes beyond that and provides what I wanted as well.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but it wasn’t easy for me to love the local people I serve. I never did have a honeymoon phase (thanks to my 13-month-old in tow and a rough landing period). For a long time, I chose to only focus on the things that annoyed me about the culture. How about that for someone who is supposed to share God’s love?
When we went to language school, the days were long and brutal with 6 hours of study. The teachers tried to make it fun, but studying squiggly lines that were supposed to mean something and multiple tones that could change the meaning 5 times over made my head hurt most days. In the afternoon, we would study with a tutor who would help us do our homework or take us on adventures to kindly force us to use what we were learning.
About halfway through the year, my new tutor (we rotated monthly) was a mama my age with a boy the same age as my oldest. My language wasn’t amazing, but somehow we would sit and talk for 2 whole hours. We connected deeply. This Sister was my first real local friend. We talked about hard things, spiritual things, and daily life things. She gave me hope that I would last the long haul in a country that I still didn’t like so much. She showed me the love of Jesus.
My tendency, being on a team, is to run to my teammates for emotional and spiritual conversations. I sinfully think my local friends wouldn’t be able to pour into me—I’m here to serve them, right? I’m ever so slowly learning that my local brothers and sisters are also mature and can pour wisdom into me like any of my teammates. I’ve been humbled more than once with their reverent prayer life. Their devotion and boldness in seeing the Gospel advanced in their country is amazing to watch.
I may not have that earthly friend who knows every part of my life, but I do have everything I need in Jesus, friends at home, teammates, and finally, locals. I try to focus on enjoying the times when friendships are plenty and sweet. I remind myself that investing in a new friendship is worth it, no matter how long it will last. When friends are not so plentiful, when it seems like no one understands my stage of life, I still have Jesus. He knows me from beginning to end, and I get to be His friend forever.
May I continue to learn and remember that earthly friendships are needed—He wants us in community—but when I’m not finding what I’m looking for, maybe I should look in a different place. He might bring someone totally unexpected to rock my world…in true God fashion.
What friendships have surprised you while living overseas? Is it difficult to go deep with local believers? How do you stay encouraged to keep pouring into new person after new person?
I don’t know about you, but we are loving roasted veggies these days! My kids gobble them up, probably because roasting them brings out their natural sweetness while giving them a crunchy char. I usually just use olive oil, salt and pepper to flavor them because they just don’t need much! But these are fun to have every once in a while to change it up a bit. I’ll warn you, I don’t measure when I’m making these, so the measurements are loose and subject to change based on your palette. These would be a great addition to your upcoming Thanksgiving meal!
I’ve never tried brussels sprouts, so I thought roasting them was a good way to try them out. But really, any firm veggie will do. Try to keep similar-textured veggies together, otherwise some will cook way faster than the others.
I made 2 pans because these always cook way down and serves less than if I’d kept them raw.
See how much less that is? But who cares…looks delicious!
Sweet, a little salty, soft, and a little crunchy.
Serve these babies with something savory since they’re on the sweet side.
Sweet Roasted Veggies
Ready in: 1 hour
Slightly adapted from: Aunt Sherry
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 yellow onion, cut into rings
1 lb. brussels sprouts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 425 F. Put veggies in large baking pan. Toss with brown sugar and cinnamon. Top with squares of butter. Pour water over veggies. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake additional 15-20 minutes or until veggies are tender.
*Feel free to use a variety of veggies. Just be sure the ones you cook together have a similar hardness. For example, if you want to add squash to this recipe, I’d roast it in a separate pan because it will cook faster.
**All of these measurements are approximations. I don’t exactly measure when I roast veggies. It’s easy to add more seasoning after they come out. But you do need some sort of oil so they’ll crisp up a bit.