• July 21, 2012

Genuine Friendships:
Each one has a face and a name

Kari and Dona Elvira

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.”

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