So when I invited my friends, Amy & Melanie, to come visit me in my new home, I realized there would be many obstacles for them to overcome to get here. But I told them I knew the biggest obstacle to them coming would be themselves. Both of them had a desire to come see me – at least in theory. But the reality (and fear factor) of making such a trip was quite another thing. Both of them had been overseas before, but it’s been many years (well before 9/11). Their list of hesitancy’s was long. I kept reminding them that I have lived here for nearly two years and would be with them the whole time. I asked them to pray about it (as I had done) and see what God said. I’m not sure that really happened. I felt pretty confident God was wanting them to come and that He had many lessons and blessings for them if they did. I reminded them that if He wanted them to come, He would go before them to work out all the details. Many things fell into place that seemed to confirm He was doing just that. But their own fears (and some resulting procrastination) almost kept the trip from happening. I could totally envision the amazing time they would have if they could just get past everything and get here. But despite the fact I was buying their tickets and doing everything I could on my end, they still had to do their part or it would not come to pass.
At one point, when it was questionable whether they would “push through” to make it happen, I felt that God told me it was the same way we often times respond to Him. He offers us some incredible opportunities to experience exciting adventures with Him. He’s gone before us and “paid the price” for us to be able to do it, and He promises to be with us every step of the way. But often times, due to our own fear or hesitancy, we miss out on some of the amazing things He would have us do.
Fortunately, with literally no time to spare, they did what they had to do in order to make it happen. They finally arrived last Sunday night, exhausted from all the myriad of details they had to orchestrate to get here. One of my goals for them was that they would have a break from their lives that are full of responsibilities and caring for others, and they could just “be and receive.” The first day (as planned) they slept in and we just sat around visiting and resting.
On Tuesday, we left the house first thing and hopped a bus to Manta. Thus began their time of “stretching.” I wanted them to get to see and experience the life I live here. We arrived at the bus station, jumped in a cab and headed to the mall for me to treat them to spa pedicures ($8 each). Afterwards, we caught another bus and headed to one of my favorite hang-out towns, Montecristi. We had a light lunch in one of my favorite bakery/coffee shops and they enjoyed seeing the town and shopping. In the evening, we bought some veggies off a local farmer’s truck and then caught another bus back to Manta, where we stopped at one of the main grocery stores. We then took a cab to one of my favorite restaurants for a very nice dinner. My taxi-friend, Jo, picked us up afterwards and brought us back to Cayo.
Wednesday morning, we walked the beach into town for them to meet some friends and see the places I used to live. We had lunch with Bill & Elaine on the beach, and they met Mesfin and Sam and witnessed the Tag reunion. Afterwards, we shared a “taxi ride” with Bill & Elaine to head back to our respective houses and spent the rest of the evening relaxing.
Thursday, we headed to another favorite hang-out town, Puerto Lopez, for breakfast and more shopping and site seeing. Then in the afternoon, we traveled back to the nearby historic and natural area I had recently visited, Agua Blanca. This was the excursion that stretched them the farthest out of their “comfort zones,” but they came through it unscathed and with flying colors!
On Friday, we again stayed home, just resting and visiting and as I previously mentioned, stayed up all night and left for the airport at 1:00 a.m. on Saturday. It was hard not to wish for more time, but I am so grateful for what we had.
I know if I had told them ahead of time all the things we were going to do, they would have been terrified (and never come). But they found that when they were actually in the moment, things weren’t nearly as bad as they would have made them out to be in their minds. I think they actually finally began to embrace the adventure. Often times as we were walking along, Amy would suddenly blurt out, “Mary, you LIVE here!”
Below are a few pictures highlighting our adventures of the week. I am so grateful that these two precious friends did what they had to, in order to be able to visit me and experience my new life (and maybe even give them a little “new life” too).
SO WHO’S NEXT???