I grew up close to my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and lots of cousins, and I was very happy. I thought that as long as I lived close to my family, I would always be happy.
What I did not know was that God had special plans for me, to be happy even if I had to be far away from my relatives.
My Friend Jesus called me to be a missionary! I had to adjust to new cultures, learn new languages, and make new friends.
It was not so easy, and I remember crying in the shower many times. I talked to my Friend Jesus about my feelings.
I have found the greatest Friend of all, one who really understands what it means to live where you don’t belong, to talk and have others not understand what you mean, to think in a different way than the majority, to feel lonely while surrounded by others, to detach oneself from things and give extra value to people, and to love strangers like they are part of your family.
Jesus has always been a Friend whom I can count on any time of day or night, and I know He always understands me and is so caring about every single detail of my life.
I am the kind of person who likes to create roots where I am. I have had to pull those roots from the ground many times in the past nineteen years, and I must admit that I never get used to it.
It hurts to say goodbye to those you have learned to love. It hurts to adjust to a new place and start learning all over again.
However, I have come to the conclusion that each time we move, the friendships we leave behind will never be forgotten. We can carry them in our hearts wherever we go. I keep cherishing the old friendships and add more along the way.
After eight years in one country, we received a call to go back to our home country. I knew it was going to be hard even though my relatives thought it would be easy to readjust to our native land.
Before our departure, my Ethiopian friend reminded me to thank God for all the friends I had made while we were there and the great opportunity God had given me to have them as part of my family.
I cried for six months when we moved back home. I missed my friends so much. I did not miss life without electricity or a car.
I missed my friends.
Even today, I remember the faces of my dear friends, the walks along the boulevard, the olive trees, the picnics in the countryside, the dry land and the sunshine, the old buildings with their magnificent architecture, the street vendors and their souvenirs, the babushkas and their scarves, the Russian bakeries and their wonderful sweets, the tea and the white sugar cubes, the smell of freshly baked bread from the bakery across the street, the smiles of the office workers who always treated me like a queen and loved me like their own sister.
How I miss all of that! When my heart aches over the friendships I have left behind, I tell my Friend Jesus about it, and I know He understands me so well.
We lived in our home country for two years. I had been away for fifteen years, and it was quite a challenge to readjust. I realized that I did not belong there. I did not know exactly who I was. I was a mixture of cultures in every way, from talking to cooking. I tried hard to make friends, but it was a struggle.
After a while, I realized that sharing my love with those in need would bring me blessings and I would feel loved. That is, I saw that helping others was much more rewarding than sharing with those who had everything. I finally made real friends.
Then it was time to move again, and I cried for another six months. Now I was missing even more people!
My Friend Jesus knew what I needed and gave me new friends.
It was hard to be in a country where people had everything and they did not seem to need us. Why would my Friend Jesus bring us here? I asked Him for a mission.
When my daughter was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, we had the experience of “walking in the valley,” but we were not alone. My Friend Jesus was there with us, and He kept sending us special friends with cards, prayers and words of encouragement.
We began our mission of praying for those who are sick and who need hope. We felt the closeness of my Friend Jesus as never before.
He has always been with us, and He knows why we are here and why we need to experience certain trials.
He continues to bless my family and me with many miracles of love. From sunrise to sunset, I can see His hands of love guiding, protecting, sustaining and maintaining our lives.
It has been a privilege to walk on this missionary journey with my Friend Jesus.
He has made me happy and whole. And soon, I will meet Him face-to-face because He has promised us that it won’t be long.
We will all live together — my friends from all over the world will live with my Friend Jesus and me forever. We will never have to transition again. We will never have to say goodbye.
We will be happy forever!
By Gisele Kuhn
Originally from Brazil, Gisele Kuhn is a missionary in Berrien Springs, Michigan. With her husband, Wagner, and daughters, Gielle and Gillian, Gisele was also a missionary in Central Asia.