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Comfort and Joy: Peace in Understanding


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Editor’s Note: As part of our “Comfort and Joy” Advent/Christmas blog series, current missioner Hady Mendez shares how she has drawn comfort through relationship during her time in Bolivia. 

It’s that time of year again. The time when we relish feelings of peace, love, comfort, and joy. Over the last two years of service, I have discovered that I find comfort and joy most during the times I least expect it.

For example, there is the time I spend with the owner of AHA Bolivia (one of my ministry sites). AHA Bolivia is a private company that employs over 200 knitters. They have two primary lines of business: knitwear and accessories.

I have worked at AHA Bolivia since the beginning of last year. The owner, Anna, is American and has lived here in Bolivia for over 20 years. She’s originally from California and at one point lived and worked in Calcutta as a volunteer (with Mother Theresa!!).

Anna, top left, with the kids (and a few instructors) of the math program she sponsors for the children of knitters and women prisoners.

Anna (top left) with the kids (and a few instructors) of the math program she sponsors for the children of knitters and women in prison.

Anna is a great person. Over the last year, we have developed a great friendship. We talk about almost anything including things we are struggling with personally and professionally. We also have a lot of fun together. Even though we are different, we enjoy each other’s company very much.

The other day, I came to the office a little spent from situations/events that had transpired over the last week. I also wasn’t feeling well physically.   I had actually considered not coming in to the office because of how I was feeling. But I pushed myself, realizing that I have only a few more weeks of time in Bolivia and I want to contribute as much as I can before leaving.

Anna picked up on my mood right away. We didn’t work that day. Instead, I sat there and opened up to Anna. I told her about my frustrations, my sadness, and my worries. We sat there for hours.

When it was time to leave the office, she drove me home and we sat and talked in the car some more. I consider Anna a good friend. She comforted me in a moment when I really needed it. I went home that day still sick (physically) but filled with joy knowing what a good friend I found during my time here.

That same day Anna encouraged me to stop by her “Friday Lunch” – a weekly gathering at her house that features yummy food, good friends, and happy times. I plan to be there as much as I can over the next few weeks because when God gifts you with a safe space and a good friend, you appreciate it.

Happy Holidays from my house to yours!

Question for reflection: Do you have someone like Anna in your life? Have you told this person how much he or she means to you?

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A self-described “Hija de Brooklyn y Puerto Rico,” Hady Mendez is the youngest of four daughters raised by Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, NY. A proud Jasper, Hady graduated from Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY, before starting a corporate career in technology that lasted for more than 20 years. Hady has a true passion for world travel and social justice and recently returned from two years of mission in Cochabamba, Bolivia.