The foursome - Amanda, Ruthie, Shanna and Katie
I marvel at the miracle of friendship.
It is amazing to me how two people, who begin as complete strangers, can through shared experiences, shared beliefs, shared thoughts and/or shared environments, find themselves transported into the realm of friendship, with hearts united.
This week I saw two dear friends off as they returned to America. I have had the joy of their company for the last two months as they visited Uganda for different reasons. Katie arrived from South Carolina in late January to conduct her practicum in Uganda - a big step in earning her master's degree in public health this May.
Katie with students from the Lingira Primary School.
Katie doesn't know this, but when I first began communicating with her by e-mail, prior to her arrival, I pictured her as a shy, sophisticated blonde. Boy, was I wrong! Katie has dark, curly hair and is Italian, which means she is very expressive. : ) She is not shy and quiet, but very outgoing.
Katie and I are actually opposite in a lot of ways. Yet, through conversations over coffee, washing dishes together, shopping together, sharing a room and other shared experiences, we moved from being strangers to being friends - almost without noticing. Katie is very personable, loving and loves quality time, including "tea time." : ) I enjoyed watching her learn more about God and His care and desires for her. She was certainly a blessing to me during her stay here!
I know Shanna because we are both from Clatskanie and attended the same church at one time. She is 13 years younger than I and we really didn't see each other so often - until she came to Uganda. She came to minister and to observe missionaries to see if missions work might be in God's future plans for her.
At first I had a hard time reading Shanna because she was so quiet and shy, but the longer she stayed, the more comfortable she became and the more I saw of her true personality. I so admire her spirit and perseverance, which shone through a number of challenges, including several health difficulties while she was here. Through her entire stay in Uganda, her main desire was to receive all that God had for her. And, because of her desire and thirst for God's best, I believe she received and learned much during her stay here.
Shanna with a few of her young island friends.
Shanna also blessed and touched the lives of many while in Uganda - the young Muslim mother who recommitted her life to Christ, the young Muslim boy who claimed ownership of Shanna's hand whenever she was nearby, the secondary students who were blessed by her example and her sharing of God's Word with them, and those of us at SHIM, who enjoyed her smile, humor, wisdom and her artistic talent. (Thank you, Shanna, for the beautiful mural - her first ever!)
Shanna and her mural - to remind us that God is our refuge and fortress, based on Psalm 91.
I marvel at the miracle of friendship and how God uses people in our lives - to bless us, to grow us, to challenge us, to cause us to look to Him.
Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of friendship, and thank you for the blessing of Katie and Shanna. May you richly bless them as they return to the U.S. Uganda won't be the same because of them.