Loneliness is something that I have struggled with off and on in my life. There are times in the US where I remember feeling lonely but during my past year plus in Brazil at times I have felt more lonely than any other time. In my conversations with other missionaries they have also felt the same or similar feelings of loneliness. It is easy for a missionary to feel lonely and isolated in a country where you don’t know the language and do not have any friends or prior close relationships. Over my time here I have learned to fight the feeling of loneliness. There are really 4 different groups of people who have helped me with battling different aspects of my feeling of loneliness.
Before I delve into an overview of these 4 groups, I would be remis without talking about the one who helped the most with my feelings of loneliness. God, the creator and sustainer of the heavens and the earth, is the one who has helped me with my loneliness the most. It was important for me to really remember that God is intimately involved with all aspects of my life and is always there to talk with even when no one else is awake or present. Knowing God and his character and nature has really helped me with my perspective on feeling lonely and how to respond well.
The first group is that of the prayer warriors who are regularly and faithfully praying for me. There are 410 different people, families, or churches who receive my monthly prayer updates. If you would like to sign up to receive my prayer letters or quarterly updates please use the link. I am so thankful for all of the prayers and I can definitely see that the LORD has answered many of these prayers. This group has really helped me not by physically being present but by continually taking my requests before the God who answers all requests. I am so thankful for their faithful prayers prior to and during my time here in Brazil.
The second group is that of the financial partners who have been faithfully giving over the past 17+ months that I have been in Brazil. This group is super important because without them I would not be able to do what I have been doing in learning the language and building relationships. I am so thankful that I have not had to worry about finances during my time here in Brazil due to the faithful giving of so many people and churches. My loneness would not be possible without all of your support but in all seriousness this group has helped my feelings of loneliness by seeing their faithful support. It is great to know that the LORD has been working through these people/churches to provide for my needs here in Brazil.
Loneliness is part of normal life for missionaries but that loneliness is exasperated by the transformation of previous relationships that I used to count on. I miss my friends and family greatly in the United States and that is only heightened at times when I miss significant events in their lives. However, it is great to be able to talk with many friends and family using Skype, WhatsApp or even Instant Messenger. The text messages or WhatsApp messages that I have received talking about exciting or daily events in life have been a very encouraging thing and have helped me to deal with my feeling lonely. There are also the times where we are able to use these different programs to have video conferences with many friends and family that have really helped deal with my loneliness.
As difficult as the first year and a half has been it is also great to make new friends in Brazil. I have enjoyed the process of getting to know other missionaries and Brazilians. The patience that my Brazilian friends have shown in getting to know me is amazing. I have been so thankful for all of the relationships that I have been able to make over the past year. These relationships have really helped me deal with my feelings of loneliness because God has created us to be social people and forming friendships with Brazilians and other expatriates here in Brazil.