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The Light of One: What Our Friends Teach Us


Continuing our daily Advent reflection series, current missioner Nate Mortenson reflects on the simple gifts of friendship.

A few years back, I was looking for a roommate so I could afford rent. Several of my friends kept telling me I should ask Colin, the guy who runs the tea shop in Eau Claire, because he was looking for an apartment. I had met him before, but we didn’t really know each other outside the tea shop.

Colin with Nate

As it turned out I saw him one day selling tea at our university, so I decided I should try to get to know him and ask. Long story short, that conversation led us to renting a place together – we were both desperate enough to sign a lease without really knowing what to expect from one another. We moved in and our friendship really took off. A year later I asked him to be a groomsmen in my wedding.

The thing about Colin is that he has such a generous heart. He’s always offering to cover the bill, to bring the food, or saying that he’ll “take care of it”. He enlivens the life of the party yet remains open and accepting of who you are. When Mary and I told him about our decision to go on mission with FMS, he didn’t even bat an eye even though it’s a concept he’s not familiar with. He listened with great interest and has supported us in making the decision even though it meant two of his close friends moving away for several years.

What Colin has taught me is that meeting someone exactly where they are, listening, and being open to who that person truly is, leads to a true and deep friendship. He had made an impact on my life and I learned a lot from him beginning with our first moments in that shared apartment years ago.

Coming up tomorrow: “The Common Denominator is Hope” by Susan Zagar!

Mary and Nate recently returned from two years of mission at the rural Carmen Pampa University in Bolivia.

Nate, the youngest son of nine, hails from La Cross, Wisconsin. Mary grew up picking strawberries in small-town Minnesota. The couple met at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, where Mary studied sociology and outdoor leadership and Nate studied Spanish and geology. They share a passion for food and bicycling, and a desire to set their marriage on a foundation of service, simplicity, and a deeper global understanding.