I have recently been pondering friendship, and I have come to the conclusion that although not every friendship will blossom or last as long as you may want it to, we must value the ones that stick it out. I have been blessed with many beautiful friendships over the past 4 years. It is my hope that many of these will persevere for years to come no matter the distance or how we change. However, I have only now come to realize just how much I respect my friends. Many of them have faced challenges throughout their lives that I cannot even imagine. When I think of complaining or sulking, I am inspired by how these individuals pushed through the storm to see the rainbow. This assures me that when I'm having a cloudy day, I too will see the sun shine.
As I think about these friends of mine, I know that faithfulness to God was what got them through their struggles. Trusting in Him is vital, which can be especially difficult when times are hard. But holding onto your faith results in ultimately giving glory to God, because it's all in his hands. Even when things don't turn out the way we want or expect, God has a marvelous plan for our lives. Sometimes unfortunate events give us strength that prepares us for our next season, or a new relationship comes out of a seemingly bad situation. Though I have never really been in a situation where my faith was truly tested, just knowing that the Lord is with me is preparing me for what is to come. My friends have been both a blessing and an inspiration for me this year.
So speaking of friends, I had the opportunity to visit with a few of my closest friends a couple weekends ago. :) We stayed at my friend Calandra's house in Valparaiso, Indiana and then spent a day in Chicago. It was my first time being on a commuter train and it was AWESOME! I love trains. I haven't been on one in about 7 years, so it was super fun. After about a 1.5 hour ride we arrived in the city and made our way to the bus station. We then proceeded to ride the bus to the Cheesecake Factory and enjoyed a deliciously HUGE lunch! And cheesecake. Creamy, flavorful, soft, perfect cheesecake. Mmhhmmm! The rest of the day was spent shopping and taking pictures at the bean in Millenium Park. The following day, back in Valpo we went putt-putting at the Dragon-themed mini-golf in town. So all in all, it was a great relaxing (and often goofy!) weekend.
I am so thankful for the support and love I have been given through my friends and family. They have played a critical role in my journey to this point. As I am now 1 week from arriving in Costa Rica to start my missionary training school, I'm busy tying up loose ends like locating my passport, dragging down my suitcase, and finalizing my email contact list for when I'm abroad. The clock is ticking, and every moment I feel my anticipation grow (yes, this includes an equal dosage of anxiety and excitement). So many aspects of my life will be different for these next 5 months: I'll be sharing a room with probably 15 other girls, my daily schedule will be planned for me, I will not be cooking or driving for a while, and I will be speaking Spanish more often. More importantly, I will be serving this new community and sharing my faith. It seems strange in a way that I will be leaving all that I know, but I'm ready. Bring on the pura vida: Costa Rica!