Every friend in life was once a stranger. In Hebrews 10:24, Paul presents a formula to cultivate such relationships and ultimately build up the church, "let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." My recent trip to New York City reminded me of how many strangers have transformed into dear friends through mutual encouragement and experiences.
Planning my annual trip to New York City is always exciting. I love the electrifying diversity and rich history that scream from the streets of NYC as I've shared before. My visit this year felt a little different than those in the past. As I connected with disciples, I became overwhelmed with gratitude as I started to reflect on how I met several sisters there. Travel and hospitality were weaved through each scenarios of how I came to build a friendship with all of them.
One of my best friends from Northern Virginia met me in New York City for the weekend. Together, we were in the Northern Virginia Church for nine years before I moved to Austin, TX. Traveling together has been a big part of how we've built our friendship over the years. We have many shared memories and interacted in different settings while traveling to Toronto, Upstate New York, Europe and numerous singles retreats in Maryland and Virginia. At times, conflict has surfaced during our trips and working through it has brought us even closer. I'm so grateful for her friendship and our deep love for each other developed through these experiences together.
Last November, I had the honor of serving on the HOPE Singles Corp project in Les Cayes, Haiti. It was an incredible experience supporting Oasis Haiti along side talented and gifted disciples from North America. Being in an unfamiliar place where you don't speak the language gives a unique opportunity to bond with your travel buddies. After sharing bug repellent to personal stories with your roommates, it's so amazing to know you've made a new friend. One of my roommates on the HOPE Singles Corp lives in New York City which made my NYC trip even sweeter! It was encouraging to fellowship with her while visiting. We were able to catch up on the things we had prayed and talked about while in Haiti. It was truly faith building to see her again and be reminded of our service together.
Another sister from NYC and I have built a friendship that started by my hosting her in my home in 2009. She traveled to Northern Virginia to attend the wedding of a mutual friend. We had a blast that weekend and it was an honor to host her. When she came back to the DC area for vacation several years later, I insisted she stay with me. And I never travel to New York City without reaching out to her. We always have so much fun when we hang out! I absolutely love her giving spirit of encouragement. When I'm in town, she takes me to local spots so I get the experience of an authentic New Yorker. My little act of kindness by hosting her for a weekend has blossomed into a 10 year connection that I wouldn't trade for anything.
Over the short weekend in New York City, I also got to connect with a sister who has become a mentor and friend. In the summer of 2017, the Spirit led to me attend the Youth and Family Conference in Denver, CO. I was promoting Come & Stay at the conference expo and was strategically placed beside Patty Zito, a sister in the Staten Island Region of New York City church. We instantly connected as sisters in Christ who desire to make powerful contributions to others through our unique calling. She asked to interview me for followers of her company YSuperstars. I made plans to visit her to record the video two months later. She has become a dear friend and confidant who I respect and admire. This was all possible because I decided to attend a family church conference instead of doing something else that Labor Day weekend. When we decide to do something outside of our comfort zone and open ourselves to new people, only God will bless it.
And finally, I was elated to meet a very special Come & Stay follower who has supported us from the beginning! She supported Come & Stay as a VIP crowdfunding supporter, participated in testing the Come & Stay prototype, and recently moved from Russia to New York City! What a blessing it is to have the encouragement and support of brothers and sisters like you and her. We are excited to give her and others the opportunity to participate in our pilot launch this summer. Make sure you subscribe to our email list if you haven't done so already to receive insider updates.
What we have in Christ, in the church is special. To know people and have a connection with others all around the world through a shared faith is a foreign concept to most. After being a disciple for almost 20 years, my family is still amazed that I literally have friends all around the world. Traveling gives us an opportunity to connect with old friends and make new ones no matter where life leads us. Practicing hospitality, serving the needy and getting out of our comfort zone opens doors to fostering these friendships. If you desire to strengthen or ignite friendships in your life, explore hosting and traveling as avenues to make this happen!
How has travel allowed you to cultivate deeper relationships with old friends and make new ones?
In what ways do you stay connected with those you have hosted or stayed with in the past?