There are those with whom I had a close friendship previously - but perhaps the long distance contact hasn´t been forthcoming... so I wonder what will it be like now when I return.
Then there´s those who I have got to know here in Guatemala, but who have already returned to the UK - and with whom I´ve talked on a deep level about their lives - and now that I prepare to go back, and have the opportunity to see them again, I wonder if our connection was simply a result of me offering support in the rollercoaster of their emotions that is a short term missions experience and perhaps doesn´t have any longer term purpose now that they are back in their 'normal life', or will it develop into a more mutual and equal relationship?
And of course there´s the friendships here in Guatemala that I leave behind for a while. What will happen with those?
I am now realising that this reflection is a part of the rhythm of living abroad and that this issue seems to come to the forefront of my mind each time I prepare to return to the UK, and the moment that I realised that, it was a relief. It was somehow easier to hold all those questions - without worrying about the answers, and just trust God. Trust God - not for anything in particular - just trust God. He is here.
Recently a friend in the UK died. Apart from feeling very sad - it was way too soon for him to go! - I also felt very conscious of the divided life that I lead. Immediately I realised that here, there wasn´t anybody to tell - because nobody here knew him. I forced myself anyway and told a few friends, but it didn´t mean much to anyone; of course because they didn´t know him, and in fact they don´t know anything about my life previous to coming to Guatemala.
At the weekend, I went to San Pedro La Laguna for our Latin Link prayer meeting. It was really good to spend some quality time with fellow Latin Link members, in such a beautiful spot. And as I shared these reflections, it was great that they understood, as they live in the same dynamic. One friend, who lives there in San Pedro so has a regular view of the Lake and all that goes on there, shared the image of balancing between two canoes, with one foot in each. I think that´s exactly my experience. At times all your weight is on one canoe, perhaps with just your other foot touching the other one. At other times, it´s the other way around. But the tricky part is changing your weight, swapping your attention from one to the other in order to transition between the two. That´s when everything feels a bit wobbly and unsure.
But then falling into water has never held much danger or fear for me! It´s actually where I feel closest to God, and know him holding me up in whatever circumstance. And so spiritually and in my friendships, I´m learning to keep focused on God, trusting in Him, in his 'upholding' - whichever canoe I´m in, or even falling in the water inbetween. He is here.
The view from my hammock!