I'm back in the states for the summer!! It's so wonderful to be in the green green state of Pennsylvania once more. Penn's woods are greener than any of the ichu (inca straw) covered mountains ever get during the rainy season in Cusco. But Cusco's blue skies have PA's beat in their cerulean majesty.
The last time I was back was during Hurricane Sandy in November of 2012 and that was only for a week. So, it's felt like quite a long time since I've tread the land of my upbringing. It's funny how the longer you are away, the smaller your world seems to shrink in that place. I was looking at my address book - probably a very antiquated object in a digital world - and observing how much smaller my contact list was. It gave me a pang of sadness until God reminded me that it was only natural. Once you go away for a while the ring of people you know shrinks starting with acquaintances that you have through work or general life activities. They are the first to go as you let go of those specific activities. We naturally are making new friends and losing some relationships in the flow of life but when you are far away those new relationships are not made. You rely on the relationship base you had from a long time ago and you notice some things.
You notice that certain relationships just naturally disappear but
notice how strong some relationships can be regardless of separation of time and location. You notice the friends that you haven't talked to in a year whom you just easily pick up with again. You notice who the people are that really care about you, appreciate you and want to be your friend. And you thank God because those people are a gift that He's placed in your life.
But relationships take work and an investment of time and interaction. So, here I am back in the states, reconnecting and continuing to build on the foundations of relationships that have stood the test of time. I am thankful for friends who still love and appreciate me despite the distance and time apart. Will I make new friends? Perhaps, but I do know that times like these - home leaves/furloughs are good for strengthening the ties that have kept me coming back to this country. Those relationships are the ones that make it feel like you are coming home.