Dona Elvira is one of the many friends we serve in Peru. Kari Stender, volunteer in Lima since August 2011, tells us about the friendship they share:
“This month, I became even more aware of how genuine our friendships are with our friends. They are developed on a level much deeper than “what can this person do for me?” They are truly from the heart and have a foundation much stronger than a common interest or belonging to the same extracurricular group. Many of our friends just long to be visited, to be listened to, to be loved. They don’t ask much of us, and when they do, we don’t mind helping them if it is possible. They are friendships based on love and genuinely caring about the other and their well-being.
One of the strongest examples of this type of friendship is that with Elvira. Friendship has continued blossoming and growing with her. Elvira is 54 years old and has advanced Parkinson’s disease leaving her body frail and weak, confining her to a wheelchair. She is often left outside during the day while her children and husband take care of their families and work. When we first met her, she often told us that nobody loved her and that even though there were plenty of people around her, she felt alone, abandoned. During our visits, she would ask us to put on her scarf or cardigan, or to do other little things that quickly grew in number. We have come to realize the importance of anticipating this and her other little requests, but to anticipate them out of love for her and not just because she always asks us. We do our best to stay faithful and visit Elvira at least once a week or stop by the physical therapy sessions in the parish to say hi and see how she’s doing. With every visit, it becomes more and more obvious just how much she cares about us. It is a genuine “no-strings-attached” friendship. Our conversations allow our hearts to connect and grow on a level that we can’t even grasp. Now, Elvira is filled with more joy and knows that someone loves her. She smiles more now than in the beginning, she laughs and has a special twinkle in her eye during our visits. It is obvious that our simple presence and genuine care for her means the world, but the friendship she offers me means just as much. There are many more friendships like this; and each friendship has a face: Alfonsina, Darilo, Señora Victora, the boys from Maranga . Each one of them has a special place in my heart and I ask that you please continue to pray for our friends here.”