Tuesday, November 18, 2014

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything.” ― Muhammad Ali

Maybe in a first world country, you can get by without friends, but in a developing country, without friends you will wither and die.  A missionary was drugged on a bus from Mwanza to Musoma and passed out as the bus stopped in Bunda.  They took his unconscious body off the bus and to the hospital here in Bunda.  A Bunda missionary went to the hospital, called his wife, and stayed with him till he could leave.  A few days ago, our Australian missionary friend, Samantha Archer, went to Dar Es Salaam for a few days.  While she was gone, her husband, our friend Matt, was watching their five children but doubled over in pain and was rushed to the hospital in Musoma.  Friends rushed to the hospital and to his home and Bunda and sat with him and took care of the five children until his wife got back from Dar Es Salaam.  He is home now and much better.  He had a kidney infection treated with antibiotics and should be fine soon.  Karen and John went to Dar Es Salaam a few years ago to visit some friends and while they were gone, I had to be rushed to the hospital in Mwanza for emergency surgery to save my life.  I was completely alone and the surgery took place at night, yet when they took me to my room after the operation, a friend and fellow missionary was waiting and helped move me from the gurney to my bed.  The next day, he and his wife came and brought me some snacks and some books to read.  In 1990, when my gall bladder ruptured in Boston and I had to have emergency surgery that led to 19 days in the hospital—Karen was in Arkansas to attend our eldest son’s graduation, and I was taking care of the other two boys.  Friends came and took care of the boys and sat with me for twelve hours until they took me into surgery.  How do we live without friends?  I’ve always maintained that we use the word “friend” too loosely—most often, we really mean an acquaintance, just someone you’ve met and who knows your name.  For me, a friend is someone you can call at three o’clock in the morning, tell them you’re in trouble, and they say that they are on the way.  Those friends are not so numerous, but we seldom really know how many would respond to that kind of a call.  We know some because they have already demonstrated how much they care, but there are others that you don’t think to call who would just as readily rush to help us.  Of course, the best way to have a friend is to be one.  Friends keep their word, friends listen without judgement, friends help without thinking, friends don’t count the cost, and true friends do not let us do things that would hurt us without saying something.  A friend doesn’t let you walk off a cliff without warning you about that cliff.  They may not be able to stop you, but they will have done all they could to keep you from it.  Sadly, sometimes we never know who our friends really are until we are in dire circumstances and our true friends rise to the occasion.  I am happy that while I may not have been such a good friend many years ago, I have learned from those who have cared for me and my family what it means to be a friend.  I have been and am still a friend to many during the last thirty years or so, and I hope I’ve been a good one.  You get to be seventy years old and you think about what you might want on your tombstone.  I just want three words, “husband,” “father,” “friend.”  History will judge how good I was, and God will judge how well I served Him, but those three things are how I want to define myself.  If I can be the best of each of those three, I will die a happy man—they are that important.  Don’t let those you love and care for not know that you are their friend.  Show them. 
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