April 7, 2015

Friends without Borders

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Reflection written by Roy Van Eerden, Elementary Principal of Abbotsford Christian School

“There is not any language that can stop a friendship. What is worthy is the interest and willingness we all put in it”

Elimilieth – grade 11 student at Centro de Fe Vida Nueva, Managua, Nicaragua.

The words above were in a card that I received from this student on the day the Nicaragua Team said goodbye to our friends at Centro de Fe. Reading it took my breath away. These words completely capture the value and importance of the relationship we are developing between our schools. Those of you who know me will not be surprised to hear that the depth of friendship that developed in a matter of a few days brought tears to my eyes.

One occasion was particularly emotional. The team had just left Centro de Fe for the day, and a number of the students were already quite emotional because of an event that had happened at the school, and the realization that needing to say goodbye in a couple of days was sinking in. I had been reflecting on a question that I was asked by a member of another team as I was explaining that our trip was about developing relationships. The question was, “How many of the students carry on the relationship after we leave?” I was unsure, but knew that Facebook friends were quickly being made.

In reflection I realized that carrying on the relationship was not the most important thing. More important is the experience of developing a significant relationship with people in a different part of the world, in different circumstances, who speak a different language.

It was impossible for me not to cry as I shared with the students how significant I felt this experience was. God created us to be in community and all of us, Canadians and Nicaraguans, lived that truth over a few short days.

My hope, my prayer, my confidence is that all of us will live out our relationships and global connections in new and fresh ways as a result of this trip. I also hope and pray that this connection is a particular source of encouragement for everyone at Centro de Fe. The warm and enthusiastic welcome we receive when we arrive at the school is testimony to their appreciation. Our students spoke often about how intensely they felt that love of Jesus from them. And our encouragement to them is important for at least two reasons. One is that Christian schools face the same challenges as we do in terms of remaining affordable with no government support. The other is that the students at Centro de Fe shared their dreams of going on to university and pursuing challenging careers in such areas as medicine. Achieving these dreams in Nicaragua is particularly difficult, but the quality of education they receive at Centro de Fe gives them a better opportunity than most.

When God lead me to get involved in intercultural learning through this connection and in completing my Masters, I felt the call to be involved in developing truly reciprocal relationships, as any real friendship is. What a blessing to be a part of achieving that through “the interest and willingness we all put in it.”



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