Last week I got a text from my old mission buddy, Hermana Recinos. (June 2007-December 2008 I spent tromping around the jungles of Argentina trying to get people to convert their lives to Christ. I like to call it my "mission" although it sounds super spy like, and that's just the way I like it!) In the real world I am supposed to call her Ashley, but since I knew her for a year a half as Hermana Recinos, I just can't seem to convert to the new name.
"Hermana Blackburn! I'm coming to Utah next week. Let's do lunch!" She demanded via text.
And I said, "You bet your sweet bippy!"
We called Hermana Cowles, our other mission bestie, and said, "Lunch date Saturday! Miss it and die!" And thus it was set for the best reunion of all time.
Because Recinos lives in Phoenix, it had been a year and a half since I had seen her. Cowles lives in Salt Lake so we got together more frequently, but I was absolutely elated at the idea of having the three of us together for lunch.
Turns out it was the four of us because Recinos' boy toy, Bully came along. With a name like Bully I was naturally afraid that we has going to try to beat me up, but turns out he was real nice and he sat there and listened to all our mission reminiscing without looking too terribly bored. Any boy who can listen to chicks' sob stories about their months spent in Argentina can stick around as far as I am concerned.
I wanted to write that caption because I feel super legit any time I use the word "circa".
I have a special bond with these two girls. Not just because we are buddies and have the same sense of humor and like to make stupid faces and giggle. Our bond is deeper than that. Deeper because we suffered together. We went through pain and difficulties together.
I absolutely loved my mission and the lessons I learned. But it was hard. The hardest thing I had ever done. It tested me and tried me and stretched me in ways I didn't think possible. I was miserable. I cried. I missed home. I knocked on doors through hours of insufferable heat. I faced rejection, I watched people I cared about make bad decisions, I begged people to come to Christ- most times without success.
In days that were dark and difficult for me, these two girls were the light. These girls were Heavenly Father saying to me, "Hey Bon. I'm going to throw some crazy stuff at you. It's going to be so hard. You're going to be lonely and homesick and you're going to wonder what the heck you're doing out here. But I'm going to give you a couple of people to help you. People who know what you're going through and that will be great friends to you, not only while you are here in Argentina, but for the rest of your life."
I clearly remember a conversation I had with my mom before I left on my mission. She asked me what I was most nervous abou,t and I said I was nervous to lose all my friends. I had such a great group of roommates- girls I absolutely adored. We studied together, we lived together, we partied together. They were my life. I was sure they would all get married and have babies while I was gone and that I would come home a friendless, hopeless awkward returned sister missionary.
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that!" My mom was quick to answer, "You will make new friends while you're there! You will build relationships that are just as strong as the relationships you have at home."
I was doubtful.
Turns out she was right. I have kept in touch with these two girls in the four years that we have been home. We have visited, slept over, and enjoyed countless lunches out together. We've been through good times and hard times together. Both were at my dad's funeral. I will never forget how Hermana Cowles got off work in a heartbeat and how Hermana Recinos drove eight hours in winter weather to be there for me. You can't buy these kinds of friendships.
I will forever be grateful for my mission and the the things it taught me. To love. To trust. To sacrifice. To pray. I will forever be grateful for the person I became during that time. But maybe most of all... I'll forever be grateful for these two girls who helped me through it.
I think it might just be time for another visit?
What do you do to keep in touch with important friends?