For the past few months, I have been able to get to know and become friends with one of my closest friend’s cousin who is from Caracas, Venezuela. It’s been beautiful to be a part of her life-even if just for little snippets- and see how she continues to grow. At first she was quiet, but as her English progresses, she continues to share more and more of her life with me. At this point, she isn’t entirely sure how long she will stay here in the United States, and she is persistent about doing certain things here while she can because she had been unable to do them in the past.

The list includes:

·         Go to a horserace (and wear those big fancy hats).

·         Learn to ride a bike.

·         Learn to drive.

At the beginning of summer, my friend came up to me and said “My cousin wants to learn how to ride a bike, she never had the opportunity to learn how when she was younger. Can we teach her how to ride a bike?” Being the amateur cyclist that I am, I said yes.

After two months of being home from summer I finally taught my new friend how to ride a bicycle. On an incredibly hot Saturday evening, I picked her up, pumped up the tires on the bike and made my best attempt to teach this 18 year old how to ride a bicycle.

It took a while for her to get used to the bicycle, and it took me a while to put into words ‘how to ride a bicycle’ because I had been riding once since the day my dad taught me how. This wasn’t the case for my friend and it broke my heart to think that her dad was not around to teach her how to ride a bike when she was a child. There we were though, having surpassed every obstacle however different or similar each on may have been in our lives so far,  and my friend persevered to ride the bike. I walked along side of my friend, holding on to one handle and the back of the bike while my friend practiced pedaling.

Twenty minutes went by of balancing and pedaling, she began to pedal faster. I stayed alongside of my friend, and finally I let go of the bike. She was pedaling all on her own! I could tell in that moment-though it only lasted a few seconds- she felt free from the anxieties and limitations in her life that she had been carrying with her. This was a moment where she had no obligation to be strong for anyone else, but she was strong, empowered by our Lord and the infinite hope he fills each and every one of our lives with.

This young woman is so strong and although I have only known her for a few months, I know that she has experienced hardships on a level that I sometimes can’t fully understand because I have not had those experiences. I am thankful for her, because she gives me perspective that I otherwise wouldn’t have. I really look up to her for her strength, patience, and trust in the Lord.

My friend has been able to overcome the pain of her past, which has been washed over by a new, unfamiliar present that keeps moving her into the unknown future. She continues to move forward: living with her Aunt, Uncle and cousins in the U.S., making new friends, learning to drive, practicing her English, and even learning to ride a bicycle.

Although she will return to Venezuela in 22 days, she is already planning on coming back to the United States to study English and I know that no matter where God puts my friend, she will always be safe with Him.

Your past and present sufferings should never limit you.


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