One of the things I most love about the family of God is friendships that last over decades and generations. More than twenty-five years ago the Guimaraes family showed up at the door of the house we had borrowed for two months in Maputo while we looked for a permanent place to live (a challenging enterprise in a communist country as Mozambique was at the time.) They were a Brazilian family with two little girls the age of ours, and since ours had just come from Brazil the four were soon dancing and squealing like long-lost cousins. (Okay. Priscila and Eunice had a little brother, Gerson, but he hardly counted at the time since he was only three.)
During our six years in Mozambique Lucio and Rosalee became our weekly prayer partners. We poured out our hearts to each other, praying for our families and our struggles to understand African culture. We rejoiced in our successes and wrestled with our failures.
Eventually, they moved to Campo Grande, Brazil, where Lucio became dean of the seminary we had helped to start in the early 1980s. Our old friends became their new friends, and our lives have been intertwined ever since. Besides Maputo and Campo Grande, both our families have also lived in South Africa.
Over the years the children have grown up. Eunice married the son of friends from our Campo Grande days. She and Marcos now serve a Portuguese-speaking congregation in the Cape Town area. In December they welcomed their second baby.
Babies are a great excuse for a visit. Lucio and Rosalee came from Brazil to spend a couple months. Priscila came down for the weekend from where she is teaching English at a YWAM base just over the mountains in Worcester. Gerson, no longer a pesky three-year-old, was too busy in Brasilia to join us. He’s preparing for the exam to become a diplomat. We missed him and our girls when my husband and I dropped in for a day and picked up where we left off the last time the Hardys and Guimaraes were together. Conversation was lively in the kitchen over rice and black beans and horded cans of Guarana Antartica (the best brand) imported from Brazil. Two-year-old David adopted me as “Grammie” (so as not to confuse me with his own vovo). We played on his swing, jumped in his (empty) wading pool, and put together puzzles. And little Sarah welcomed anyone who held her and cooed over her.
Of course there are rewards to making new friends, but there is a solid security to a friendship that stretches over time, weaving in and out of many memories and relationships, with common goals of serving God. We don’t have to explain. They understand. They remember. I can only thank God for the privilege of such friendships.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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