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It's Up To You

So... I had a revelation that continually resurfaces in my time here that I thought that I would share. You see, I think that I thought when I got here that I would suddenly be innundated with letters and calls, emails and care packages--that people at home would know that all I needed was a little taste of home so that I could continue on in faith and tenacity. And, to a certain extent, I was right...well at least for the first few months; and some of my friends have done better than others because that's just how they are hard-wired. I got random cards and a few packages here and there that really blessed my soul. But what I found was the every day stuff was still missing. I didn't know what was going on in my closest friends' daily lives. This was something I was privileged to before coming to Mercy Ships. 

Now I know what you must be thinking, "Duh, Andrea. You moved. You can't expect to know." But I did. I've moved around quite a bit in my life, but somehow thought that this move would be different. Perhaps it's because this was a move towards "service", I didn't categorize it as leaving the same way. Some part of me separated from the reasonableness of that statement and decided that they would be more committed to writing (at least emails or Facebook messages) to keep me in the loop about what was up. But then I had to look at it from their eyes. To them, I had left. Period. Sure it was for a good cause, but it meant that their method of relating to me in friendship/relationship had changed and they were equally as thrown off about it. 

But there IS indeed a silver lining. The revelation that came through was that it was up to me. It was up to me to design ways to stay connected. For example, the first year I was gone, I had a Barbie doll that I let my god children name who became my "traveling companion" and who has her own twitter account and Facebook page so she could post thoughts and pictures about what she and Auntie Andrea were doing. And with my grown friends, I had to be the one to reach out and say "let's have a phone date" and ask critical questions that would tease out the nuances of the day like "what funny thing did your youngest child say this week?" I had to be the one to send detailed emails explaining more than the heart of the mission but telling them about my day to day trials and triumphs. At the end of the day, our friendship remaining connected was heavily up to me. Being real about my need to have this connection was a first step, expressing it to them and then being intentional about finding time and ways to make it happen. It's like that quote (author escapes me at this moment...I think it's Ghandi) that says "be the change you want to see". In this case, if I needed a letter, I had to write one. If I needed a picture, I had to send one. If I needed a hug...well...I had to put an order in for later and then just reach out with a virtual one myself.

The blessing on the back end has been friendships that have blossomed, some that have grown, and even some that have moved on (yes, that can be a blessing). I still argue that I have the best friends of anyone I know. I have the greatest support network and I know that I know that I KNOW that people are praying for me even when I don't know what they ate for dinner last night. They contribute each day to me being able to do my job here with grace. They are in my corner backing me up. What's more, when I really do need to hear just a bit of the jibber jabber of life at "home", they are happy to oblige. When we change our expectation and when we embrace that this will be a new season that may test our friendships/relationships in ways we are least expecting, we open ourselves up for God to work things out according to His own plan. 

The moral of the story? Be intentional. Be free. Be encouraged.
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