"All my friends are moving away, I don't have any friends." Or at least that's how it felt 6 years ago as the school year was ending and people were moving on.
That's the thing with international teaching and living abroad. People come and go all the time.
Ironically 6 years ago is also when two friends (Alfredo and Liz) invited us to a new church that was meeting in a living room at the pastor's house.
I remember walking in and thinking wow, there's only 15 of us and the pastors, Justin and Angela, looked like gringos but talked in perfect Spanish.We felt right at home, everyone was so friendly. We stayed and talked for at least an hour with everyone if not more.
And that's how we found ourselves every Sunday evening, sometimes there'd be hamburgers or hotdogs or a dessert bar. We always ate well, felt encouraged and laughed lots.
I remember the first time Angela was out of town and asked me to make a snack for the group and I made homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches. Their 2 year old son Jett helped me make the lemonade.
We quickly outgrew their living room as more and more people started coming.
I remember moving into a new building, Higgs. It was a super trendy restaurant that allowed us to have services there on Sundays in the evenings. We brought in snacks, invited all our friends and kept meeting more and more incredible people. We switched from 1 to 2 services as we outgrew the space.
We then moved to another new building, La Plata. It was another restaurant that allowed us to have services there. The kids had classes upstairs and we had our services downstairs.
Finally, in 2018 we found a new house for this amazing community. We started meeting at yet again another closed restaurant.
And this one feels perfect. It's 3 floors with plenty of space and it's even a coffee shop during the week. Our community has grown so much that we now have 3 services on Sundays with lots of activities happening during the week as well.
This community is a beautiful mix of people, cultures, traditions we've started over the years and new additions nonstop.
A few months ago celebrating 5 years of this new family and community, I couldn't help but think of where we started and where we've been.
Life is like that. When we feel lost, or like giving up it sometimes takes a community to pull us up.
I literally felt alone 5 1/2 years ago after so many friends moved back home or moved on to new adventures while I was staying in GDL. And within a year, I suddenly had new besties. God knew exactly what I needed and who He was bringing into my life during that transition period.
Walter and I can both pinpoint so many mile markers along our journey where we didn't know where to turn with our marriage , with parenthood, with our finances, with our careers and so often the answer was found within this community. They've literally seen us at our worst and at our best.
We've cried together.
We've celebrated all the things together.
We've laughed, oh so hard, together.
We've grown together.
And we can’t wait to see where else we go and what else we accomplish together.
Living in a country far away from your own family, it's priceless to find a community where you belong. We've been beyond blessed with people's generosity, vulnerability and strength when we've been unsure of our own.
As one of my now besties Angela told me:
Sometimes your dreams come to life with groups and not on your own. - Angela Jaquith
That simple perspective shift has had me thinking about all the ways that dreams in my heart have turned into reality thanks to so many people in our lives.
So here’s to this amazing community.
And to making our dreams come true, together.
If you're looking for a place to get connected in Guadalajara, come join us on Sundays at "The House" or join us for a small group during the week, everyone is welcome.