Heads up: this is a long one.
Last week, I hit my first “rough patch” in Bogotá. It took me by surprise, to be honest. For the past 2 months, I’ve felt like we’ve adjusted pretty well, for the most part. As a family, the transition has been fairly smooth, and all 4 of us have felt like we have slid into a new lifestyle in a foreign culture without nearly as much stress as we expected. School was going well, we’d gotten into a good routine, the boys were loving their time with Deisy, things were feeling “normal.” We had been “honeymooning,” so to speak.
Then, last week, I felt like my little world turned upside down for a couple of days, and the emotions that came with it knocked me off my feet.
Deisy told us she had an interview for another job.
…Let me back up…
I had known from the beginning that Deisy wasn’t a “professional nanny.” This wouldn’t be her long-term job. She had hopes to go back to school at some point in the future to finish her law degree, and she eventually needed a job that would pay well enough to save money for school. But in the meantime, jobs were hard to come by, and when she’d heard about a nanny opportunity for American missionary kids, she jumped on it. I knew that going in, and I knew I probably wouldn’t have her as long as I’d hoped.
But honestly, I figured that it would be hard for me to get really attached to or bonded with someone quickly since I can’t speak the language and the cultural differences are vast. I wasn’t too worried about it.
But then she started working for us. She bonded with my children instantly, and they absolutely adored her. She had a natural nurturing instinct with toddlers, and I grew to trust her very quickly. She fell into the rhythm of our family almost immediately, and she was such a blessing to have around. Before long, she stopped being “just the nanny” and started becoming my friend.
Although I knew I had grown really fond of her, I had no idea how strong that attachment was until I heard she had an interview for a good office job. I was happy for her, but devastated at the prospect of losing her as our nanny. When she called to confirm a couple of days later that the interview had gone well and she had indeed been offered the new job, my heart sank. She would only be with us for one more day.
I took it hard, and I don’t think anyone was more surprised by that than I was. Later that night, I found myself in tears over any little thing, and Nate finally put me to bed early. The next day was Deisy’s last day with us, and I couldn’t concentrate in class. When the time came to tell her goodbye, I thought I was going to hold it together… But then she surprised me. Tears started pouring down her face. She wrapped me in a huge bear hug and kept saying over and over in spanish, “I love you. I love your children. I love your family. Thank you so much. You are such a blessing to me.” I lost it all over again, and we were both standing there, hugging and bawling through our goodbyes. Before she left, she said “As the boys grow up, make sure they know that I was their first Colombian nanny.” I lost it again.
Our friendship was a mere 7 weeks old, forged through major language and cultural barriers, yet here we were, both sobbing over the thought of it ending.
How did that happen? There’s no other explanation other than the fact that sometimes the Lord creates significant bonds over insignificant things. I never expected it, yet He knocked me off my feet with an incredible blessing.
Before we moved, one of the things I prayed for constantly (and often asked others to pray for with me), was a good Colombian friend. A woman who would walk me through my language goofs and cultural screw-ups, who would be patient enough with me to listen even while I had a hard time communicating, who could over look my obnoxious American-ness and see a sister in Christ underneath. I prayed for it, although I thought it would be almost impossible until I had a decent grasp of the language. My hope was that maybe the Lord would answer that prayer a year or so in to my time here.
In 7 short weeks, the Lord showed me that the friendships he forges aren’t dependent on time, or language, or cultural similarities. He showed me that he can provide me with real Latin-American friends even when I think its impossible.
But I still crashed. Last Tuesday was Deisy’s last day, and I was in a funk for the rest of the week. I don’t know why I couldn’t shake it. Maybe it was because I had really begun to feel “settled,” and hiring a new nanny and adjusting to a new person felt daunting…it felt like I was starting over right when I’d started to feel like this is home. Maybe its because I’d just been through a mountain of goodbyes when we left the US, and adding one more goodbye was just too much. Maybe it was because I felt like I was losing the only Colombian friend I’ve got. Maybe it was the thought of my kids having to adjust to something ELSE, after it feels like I’ve changed so much in their little lives. Maybe it was self pity…why was God making me give up something else when it felt like I’ve just given up so much?
(That last one is a lie rooted deep in the sin in my self-righteous heart, by the way.)
I guess it was all of it. Either way, I wasn’t myself for days, despite the fact that I KNEW that God would provide again, just as he had before…despite the fact that I was beyond thankful for the short time we had with Deisy….despite the fact that I was thrilled that she was going to be able to pursue a job that would help her do what she felt the Lord was calling her to do….despite the fact that I trust that the Lord’s ways are far greater than mine, and that all of this has been for my good and His glory.
I’m feeling a lot better now. My first rough patch is over, though I’m sure there are many more to come as I adjust to living a continent away from everything familiar. The new nanny has started and the boys seem to like her. I’ve learned all over again that 2-year-olds are resilient. I’ve learned that, here on the mission field, I shouldn’t be surprised when something that seems little suddenly invokes a strong emotional reaction…stronger than I would have ever expected. And once again, I’ve learned that God is good, all the time.
Even in a rough patch.