If you are a fan (like me) of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, you might use the term “kindred spirit” for a that dear friend or friends in your life that just get you. They are the people that you don't have to explain yourself to, that care about you, the ones that you actually try to keep up with and they keep up with you. I am a relational person. I love social networking like Facebook and blogs because they are ways that I keep up with others and try to let others keep up with me. Living in a foreign land, I have learned that these types of social venues are good for me. Since I am such a social person and my Spanish has been on the side of lacking for the majority of my time here, Skype and social networking have helped me with not feeling a loneliness that I think I would have if I didn't have the internet.
So some of you may be thinking, “Where are you going with this? Remember, you always have God. He is the only one that can fill that void.” Nothing is wrong with me (I hope) so that I don't realize this about my heavenly Father. This isn't a bad reflection on my marriage. This girl just needs to have some of those kindred spirit connections in addition to God and a loving husband, and it has been hard to find here in this foreign place.
I remember going through the emotional roller coaster before making this move of being excited about the work, but incredibly sad to leave behind family and close friends. Some of you may not know that Greg, Kyle, and Larissa all grew up together in Tyler, TX. They were all good friends in the same youth group. I remember telling Greg that it wasn't fair that we were moving so far away from everything I knew and it wasn't so bad for him because we were moving there with his friends. This was also at a time when we had another teammate that grew up with their Tyler group. Greg, knowing that I am an emotional basket case that has highs and lows that change in a moment, consoled me that day and said, “Megan, maybe God has a kindred spirit waiting for you in Arequipa that you don't even know yet?” Greg knew my “kindred spirit” language at this point, and it did the job for that day.
Well, here I am 4 years later. To be honest, I have felt like I give about 85% in most of my friendships here, and I am lucky to get 5% in return sometimes. That is how it feels. We have many godly members of our church body that are true friends, but there is something about finding that person that you just know you click well with. You know? God blessed and encouraged me so much in this last month with two girlfriends that just might become Peruvian kindred spirits to me...
This last month has been a stinker in two ways. First, my grandmother (who I am extremely close to) got really sick. It is the first time that I have felt the burden of distance to family weigh so heavily on me. I can't just make a quick trip home. I had a conversation with my father about the possibility of coming to see her. Tell me I am a pessimist, but all I could think is that I might not get to ever see or talk to her in person again. This absolutely broke my heart. I had this conversation with my father right before a house church gathering. One of our dearest sisters, Etelvina, arrived to the meeting first. Even though I had washed my face and “put on my smile” she immediately asked me, “Why have you been crying?” (Peruvians are so blunt sometimes.) I explained the situation to her in the midst of my blubbering and tears. In the meeting that day, I couldn't get through the songs. They seemed to all trigger thoughts and memories I have with one of the greatest heroes of my life, my granny. I shared with the church that day why I was so emotional, and I asked for their prayers.
That night, I got a phone call. It was Areli, Etelvina's daughter, who is seeking God right now. She couldn't come to the meeting that day, but she heard through her mother what was going on. She called to tell me that I would have peace in God, that she cared for me, and that she was here for me. I haven't told her this (and I will), but that phone call meant the world to me during a time that I was feeling extreme loneliness. She is someone I enjoy hanging out with. She is someone that genuinely cares for me. She went the 85% that night. And I answered with the 15%. That is friendship.
The other big stink bomb that occurred this month is with our house. Our landlord decided to raise our rent significantly (which all of our Peruvian friends said was not right or normal), and we decided that we would look for a different place to live. Moving is such a pain here. It would be our 4th move, our interns arrive in June, and we know how stressful the looking and moving process can be. To tell you the truth, I didn't really let it bother me. I had received the news of my grandmother (and decided to take a trip to see her the first part of May), and I was over my head in the library work. I honestly can't tell you if I was experiencing peace or just choosing to ignore the worry that I could have dwelled on. That Thursday, I was teaching in one of the third-grade classes and my phone rang. I ignored it. It rang again. I tried to silence it. When it rang the third time, I thought that maybe there was an emergency. It was my neighbor and good friend, Nadia. I told her I would talk when I got home from the schools.
I returned home, and as I passed the door leading to their side of the house (our homes share the same lot), I thought I should ask what was going on. She came to the door, looked at me, told me she had heard about our conversation with the landlord (her cousin), and burst into tears. I hugged her. It hit me like a ton of bricks. She wanted us to stay. We actually have a relationship with our neighbors (which has been hard to cultivate in this culture; people stay to themselves). After a 30 minute conversation with Nadia and her mother, I returned to my house. Greg was in the front room, and I told him that I felt like I had experienced one of the most beautiful moments of my time here in Peru. Nadia and Anita (her mom) checked on houses in the neighborhood, suggested scenarios for what we could try, and told us more than once they didn't want us to move. Nadia has become so dear to me, which you know if you read my monthly articles. This situation confirmed to me something that I feel like I always have to question here—true friendship. What a beautiful moment.
In order not to leave you hanging, our landlord came to the house this week, and he lowered the price of the rent. We aren't moving. Praise God. And I told Greg in retrospect, Nadia and Anita are a deal of a lifetime. You can't “rent” good friends and neighbors that will look out for you. God is good, and I feel so blessed by these friendships at this point of my Peru journey.