by Ana Paula Lima Batista
Ames, Iowa

Living far away from my family and my country has been a big challenge for me. I’m getting through this because I found good friends, friends as I have here at this church and who make me feel very welcome.

I’m a PhD student in Brazil, and I came here as a visiting scholar for 10 months. At the very beginning and for several times, the only thing in my mind was about getting back to my home country. I used to feel very, very homesick and sad.

One night, after work, I decided to check for English classes and groups for international students online. At that time, I found the Memorial Lutheran Church website and right there, a magic contact - Hannah’s e-mail! I sent an e-mail to her asking about the English class and costs. I was very excited to get an answer, and I felt so happy when I got it! She answered me in a friendly way and right away invited me to a group meeting at the church! I was very happy. Finally, I could meet new friends.

But I was also nervous since my English was very limited, and they could not understand me. Anyway, I went there and I met Hannah; and now, what can I say? Well, I’ll try explain ... she just made my day. She introduced me to other girls at the Bible study group, and since then I have met a lot of nice people at the church and they have been making my stay here go more smoothly!

I started going to the free English classes and I felt my English getting better. Even now, when my work has been so time consuming, I keep going to the Bible study group. This Bible study meeting is the best time in my whole week. Going there gives me strength, and my friends there are amazing people! I wish I could take them to Brazil when I get back. I’m serious!

I would like to thank everyone from the Memorial Lutheran Church. They really care about us and try to do everything to help! I’m very thankful to come here all this time.