(Note: The characters in this series are fictional, but their experiences are based on true life stories.)
"I really love my new job, and Mark seems to be enjoying his new school, but I’m finding Nanaimo to be a hard place to connect with people." Muriel was talking on the phone to her friend Laura back home in Saskatchewan.
"Have you tried going to church?" Laura asked.
Muriel was surprised by the question. Since when did her old friend lay on guilt trips about going to church? "Why would that make any difference? Besides, I haven’t gone to church since I was a teenager!" she insisted, a little defensively.
"That doesn’t matter," Laura replied. "Church is one of the best places to get connected in a new community. You have a ready made circle of people who each have their own circles of friends and acquaintances, and if you can meet a few people with whom you have things in common, you can make new friends pretty quickly."
Muriel and Laura talked a while longer about the subject before going on to other things, but the thought stayed with Muriel after they hung up. She talked it over with her eight-year-old son, and he agreed to go with her to some churches on Sundays to see if she could meet some people that way.
After a few disappointing tries, Muriel found a church where there were some people her own age, and where an effort was made to talk to her. There was even a Sunday school for Mark to attend while she talked with the other adults.
One Sunday after the service, she met a woman named Helen who was about her age, and who had also gone through a divorce a few years earlier. As they talked, she learned that Helen’s two kids attended the same school as Mark. Helen said that she was having a few friends and their kids over for her daughter’s seventh birthday party, and invited Muriel and Mark to come too.
After the party, Muriel called Laura to tell her the good news, and to thank her for her idea. "When you suggested going to church, I thought you had turned into some kind of zealot. But you were right! Not only have I met some people I have things in common with, I’ve made some great connections in the neighbourhood, and by coincidence, I’ve gotten to know a few parents of Mark’s schoolmates. Thanks for the tip!"
"I’m glad it worked out," Laura said, happy to hear her old friend’s good news.
Material prepared by Rev. Curtis Aguirre, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, Nanaimo, B.C. and provided courtesy of Canada Lutheran.