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Friendship, Family & Faith by Sarah Hein

“It’s all about the relationship.” I have heard this many times since becoming involved in, enamored with, and passionate about the Sister Parish ministry.  However, in my life, it has become about friendship and family, with the focus on faith. 

In the past months and this year’s trip, I thanked God, many times, for my friends and family in Lepaterique. Due to the relationship, I have friends and family in unexpected places.  One friend, Suyapa, went out of her way to find my phone number and texted her condolences on the death of  my dad. 

Then a few days later, she called me.  She and I pieced together a powerful conversation—her Spanish and my broken Spanish and English.  A couple of months later, she texted again, welcoming me back to Lepaterique this summer. God and the Holy Spirit were present in that conversation and the tears flowed afterwards, knowing  that I had received a most thoughtful gift from a cherished friend.

Fast forward to our most recent visit…I am in Lepaterique, and we have finished sorting and counting medications for the medical aspect of our visit.  It is Friday, and a group of women is sitting around talking and catching up, as only women can, despite the conversation being in Spanish and English!  It was then that I learned that my friend Paula had also lost her father, shortly after my own had died.  It was very powerful, knowing that, despite being in different countries, speaking different languages,  we held the same grief in our hearts.  I also learned later that Paula wanted to make sure that I knew how much the conversation had meant to her.  I reiterated the same to her.  Throughout the week, Paula and I managed to make sure that the other knew we were there for each other.  As the good-bye party was winding down, Paula and I hugged and we made sure that the other knew of our prayers  for our deceased fathers, families, and each other.

As I write this reflection, a lump is in my throat, but a smile is on my lips, as I say my prayers, remembering a precious friendship that is flourishing, despite the thousands of miles apart.  I also remember the shared faith.  Thank you, Lord for the blessings of this friendship.   And with that, I say, “It’s all about the friendship!”               

-Sarah Hein