Friends

Briana Merrigan - Ecuador


March 3, 2015

Last week my region had our second training seminar with another region that we hadn’t seen for about five months. Catching up on our lives, I was frequently asked the question, ‰ÛÏSo‰Û_ do you have friends in your community?‰Û Along with many others, I shamelessly responded, ‰ÛÏHaha definitely not.‰Û But returning to Colta Monjas Alto after that week, I realized how very wrong I was. It‰Ûªs true, I don‰Ûªt really have friends my age; there‰Ûªs no one that I would call up with boy problems or gossip with. No one has heard of lacrosse, field hockey, or diving. åÊWe don‰Ûªt have the same music preferences or hobbies. My host mom refuses to try the peanut butter my parents brought me no matter how life changing I insist that it is. However despite every cultural difference there is, I DO have friends. Gladys: My 17 year old cousin. åÊShe has always been pretty shy in general, but this week as soon as I came back she sprung on me with a big hug signifying that my presence had been missed after all. The next day, we went together to Cajabamba to participate in Carnaval (a free-for-all of throwing eggs, water, foam, paint, etc.). We didn’t talk much but took turns protecting each other from approaching gangs of paint-bearing little boys. A different day when another girl was nearby, she laid her head on my shoulder, looked at the girl and said, ‰ÛÏMi (my) Briana.‰Û Elderly woman: Okay, so I don‰Ûªt know her name but we‰Ûªre still friends! Each day when pass her house her face breaks into a huge grin. If she sees me around town, I can always count on her to pat the ground by her side for me to come and sit. We chat about a wide variety of things such as her telling me not to cry, not to leave, and where am I going today? I see her as my grandma of the town. One day, although cheek kissing does not happen in my town, she wouldn’t let go of my hand until she pulled me in for a peck on the cheek. Vanessa: My favorite little six year old friend and cousin. From week one she was running up to me as I arrived at my house that‰Ûªs right next to hers. I’ve had the privilege of teaching her jump rope, pushing her on the swing, and snuggling with her while watching soccer games. Yesterday, during one of these snuggle sessions she looked up at me smiling wide and said, ‰ÛÏEs bonita tener una amiga no cierto Briana?‰Û (It‰Ûªs nice to have a friend isn‰Ûªt it Briana?) I beamed back and said, ‰ÛÏSi, es muy bonita.‰Û

Briana Merrigan