I once heard a comedian (Rich Hall) describe a friend as a person who would help you move, but a good friend would help you move a body. I laughed pretty hard at that. I have moved many, many times and couldn’t have done any of them without friends. Yet here, as the only three non-Africans living in a hundred-mile radius, it is hard for us to have friends. A lot of people go through life with only a few friends. It seems that some have less than that. We do have some Tanzanian friends but the language and culture problems keep us from being the kind of friends we both need. Still, Shaban and others here would do anything for us and love us to death, but they are not people with whom we can bounce ideas around, or to talk about deep and troubling subjects. However, we are not at the mercy of life, standing alone in a strange land. We have friends and we have each other.
Facebook shows us people who seem to have a multitude of friends. Wherever they go, people know them, and like to be around them. Should trouble strike, their biggest hesitation might be over which friend to call. They know exactly the person with whom to discuss the topics of inquiry and debate. Their lives are full of entertaining and invigorating relationships because their lives are full of friends.
We three have had to learn to be more than husband, wife, father, mother, and son to each other—we have had to learn to be each other’s friends. It didn’t happen overnight, but after ten years in a foreign land, in a foreign culture, speaking a foreign language, we have become the best of friends which is a real blessing because friends can cheer us when we’re sorrowful or depressed. Friends can challenge us when we allow ourselves to get beyond our reasonable boundaries in ways that family members just can’t. Friends can motivate us when we’re ready to give in or give up, and they can provide for us when life falls apart. They are there when all is well, and we want someone with whom to share life’s pleasant and memorable moments. Karen, John, and I have become friends who share the same passions for serving God, helping the people around us, and knowing the joy of making the world we live in a better place. Just the other day, I slipped Juliana some money to buy Charlini some new shoes for school, but without me knowing, John had slipped her some money to buy Charlini some extra reading books. Karen just smiled at how we seem to have become each other. We often just want to be around each other to have a good time, to laugh, to act silly, to watch a movie that makes us think and talk about it the next day.
It is safe to say that when God created the world and all the majestic things in it, when He streaked the heavens with radiant color and the earth with grand mountains and awe-inspiring canyons, when He painted the Serengeti plains with waving grasses and filled it with exotic animals, He outdid it all by creating friends, and we are so blessed that we are friends for each other. Why not take a moment or two and thank someone today for being a friend to you?
May God bless you with all the friends you need, and may He turn you into a blessing by using you as a friend to others.