Growing Community

Lonely RoadLately, I have been struggling with feelings of isolation.  My life is a solitary one most days.  Working online from home means that there can be days upon days that I don’t physically see another person besides Little Man.

That doesn’t mean I don’t talk to anyone.  I have a wonderful learning community the world over, and friends near and far.  It’s just all mediated by a screen.  And sometimes that can feel lonely.

Since hosting Soccer Boy this summer, these feelings have deepened.  I no longer had much in common with many of my local face-to-face friends.  It became a struggle to communicate.  I was missing a boy far away, and not everyone understood what that meant, and I didn’t know how to express my sadness clearly.

And so I felt like in making my world larger, I lost the little foothold I had in this corner of it.

And I was devastated.

Because this mattered.

And I have discovered yet again that sometimes taking a leap into an abyss means that I cannot simultaneously remain where I was.  I am changed.  And so are the people around me.  The foothold crumbles and I find myself in a new place with a new climb ahead of me.

And sometimes I felt like it was—it still is—impossible.  Maybe the leap cost more than I was ready for.  More than I thought it would.  And I wasn’t sure where it would all lead.

But at the same time, there was an online community of other hosting families who know what I was going through; many had experienced the same thing.  And there were ones who called me, who drove to me, who loved me in spite of myself.

I needed to stand up and start walking, not knowing where this new adventure was going, bruised from the ruins behind.  But I don’t regret that I started down this path.  Because I’m finding that perhaps my leap mattered.  Perhaps it rumbled footholds around me.

Of course, I want people here with me, living life out in my corner of the world.  And it is in that area of my life that the landscape looks so different, so foreign.  But there, too, I am starting see new footholds with new friends.  New connections with old ones.  Sparks of a new something.

I see a new community growing.   Hearts excited for this sacrificial adventure.

Stephanie and Bryan hosting Sprite.

Dana and Dave hosting Picassa.

And my Sunshine.

And now some new families have joined our little mission.  Yet one more Eastern European will be coming to our town for Christmas.  This time, it is a chaperone—a woman in her mid-twenties.  Two local couples, Michael & Jennifer and Ben & Jan, will each welcome her into their homes for two weeks.

With each hosting program, the children are escorted to the Unites States by chaperones.  These chaperones stay throughout the visit and communicate with the children to make sure everything is going well.  All of these chaperones also need places to stay.  Through my volunteer work with New Horizons for Children, I had the opportunity to facilitate a chaperone’s placement here in our town.  While these chaperones are not orphans, caring for them enables us to care for the children.  Showering them with love and care and treating them like family also helps this program to grow, and might just provide an opportunity to care for the heart of an adult from a foreign country in a way that most of us don’t have the chance to do.

This Sunday, we will be bringing four Eastern Europeans back to our little town for the Christmas season.

This Sunday, the third week of Advent, we will light the candle of joy.  And we will open our homes and share our hope, our love, and our joy with these four.

This Sunday, we will come together as a growing community.

What a gift, this band of traveling companions, these others who are leaping with me, joining me as we figure out together where this path leads.  It was an unexpected gift, one that does not negate the losses I have felt nor the loneliness that clings, but one that makes me marvel at the creativity of the One who loves setting the lonely in families.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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