Why the long silence? The most concrete thing that I can say is that I am still working to perfect the balancing act required for all the relationships in my life. I think I knew, in theory, that this would happen to me in my missionary life, but it’s been one of the hardest adjustments I’ve had to make (and that I’m still making)!

It started way back in January of 2010. It was January 12, in fact, the same day of the major earthquake in Haiti. As news was pouring out about the earthquake, I was receiving information that would change my life in a totally different way. I had discovered a missionary role as a guesthouse manager in Lima, Peru. Through a long-time friend at SIM, I was told to contact someone in the Selection and Training Department at SIM to follow up on this interest I had. This contact was just the beginning.

Since that day, I have come to know and love dozens of folks that work in the SIM-USA office in Charlotte, NC. Some I worked closely with in the office during June – September of 2011. Some became my friends as we talked about baking cakes and cooking. Some used to serve as overseas missionaries and have poured support and advice into my life. And above all, all of them were and are praying for me and have provided tremendous encouragement along the way. I miss the folks in that office! How I’d enjoy a few hours of roaming those halls a little more. I could never get anywhere quickly because someone always stopped me to see how things were going and to tell me they were praying. I still get emails telling me of their faithful prayers.

That wasn’t the only new group of folks that I encountered on this journey. My training through SIM also took me to SIM-Start and SIMCO where I met other SIM missionary applicants. Those friends are now spread all over the world, with a large concentration in Africa, of course. Some have already completed their missionary service and some are preparing to leave for the field within the next month. It’s a joy to see how God is working in all of their stories! I see their updates on Facebook, I get their newsletters in my inbox, and on some special occasions I even get to Skype with some of them. I’d love to catch up with each one individually.

My trainings also took me to Mission Training International, a school in Colorado that serves folks from all different mission organizations who are preparing for cross-cultural service. My network of missionary friends nearly doubled in these 5 weeks as we laughed and cried our way through some serious topics and climbed many mountains together. These folks are scattered far and wide too, and just like my SIM folks, their updates are really exciting! God is moving in major ways in so many places!

Because I work for a faith-based mission, throughout this entire time, I was also building relationships with many folks who would become an integral part of my support team. It’s only by the gifts and prayers of many folks at home that I am able to serve God here in Peru. I am so thankful for everyone who is a part of my team! Some of these folks are people who have known me nearly my entire life. Some are friends from high school and college. Others are folks with whom I have barely crossed paths, but whom God is using to do His work around the world. I have renewed friendships with people that I hadn’t seen on 10 years and added many new friends as well. I have 2 churches that support me, almost 50 families that send support each month, many more folks who give one-time gifts as they are able, and many faithful, fabulous people that support me in prayer. I’d like to write thank you cards to each of them monthly!

Bearing in mind that I had a life teaming with friends and family before January 12, 2010, you can see how my network of relationships exploded during 2010 and 2011. But, it didn’t stop there. When I arrived in Peru on October 11, 2011, I was greeted at the airport by my new supervisor and her family, who I now call my friends. The Lima team has about 25 folks and there are about 50 folks in Peru in total, not counting our kids. I have had well over 10 different classmates in my time in language school and at least 10 different teachers (not to mention the other teachers at the school that I’ve gotten to know through sharing my baking skills). Through school activities, cooking classes, and dance classes, I’ve met even more of the students at school from around the world. Outside of school, I’ve met friends of friends, Peruvians who attend our SIM English ministries, strangers in the bus, baristas in Starbucks, family of my host family, members of my new church, and many more folks here in Peru. These folks are a part of my day-to-day life in Lima and I am blessed to know each of them. They will never replace existing relationships, they just get added to the big mix in my head and heart.

I’d love to talk to my best friends back home as much as I used to. I wish I could Skype my sister and see my gorgeous nieces every day. I’d like to hang out at my friend Stacey’s house here in Lima more often because her family is cool. I’d like to write my prayer team or send a newsletter to everyone more than every-other-month. In fact, I think I could easily spend 18 hours a day just maintaining all of the relationships I have and still not do them all justice! Oh yea, and I’d like to sleep sometime.

So, how do I balance all those relationships? That’s an excellent question. When I figure it out someday, perhaps I’ll let you know. In the meantime, perhaps that will help explain why I haven’t blogged in a while.