I had just arrived in Denver to serve as a year-long missionary with Christ in the City. It was the first time I had ever lived anywhere other than Lincoln, Nebraska. Denver was a new city, new people, and a new place to try to make home. I was excited, but a little anxious about leaving comfort and familiarity behind me.

We were told that the missionaries would have a technology fast for the first few weeks of our time together. I was worried at first because it wouldn’t allow me the luxury of talking to my friends and family back home and I was already experiencing plenty of new things without them.

It was definitely a challenge, but by the end of the technology fast I was extremely grateful for it. It allowed our community to really come together and be available to each other. Because we had no devices to turn to, we quickly learned to turn to each other during both the joyous and hard moments of those first few weeks. 

It not only gave us missionaries the freedom to be present with one another and take a break from social media, but also to cultivate relationships back home in a new way. During my time on the technology fast I was able to send and receive letters from so many people I care about: my parents, neighbors, high school and college friends, and even students who came to CIC for mission trips.

We often think if we can’t “like” someone’s Instagram post or send them a text letting them know we are thinking of them, it invalidates how much we care for the person or the friendship means less. I realized during the tech fast that distancing myself from constant connection, whether through Facebook or Facetime, made my conversations intentional and more fruitful when I was able to talk with someone I cared about. Even though many miles separate me from my friends back home, it has been beautiful to experience how those relationships have actually grown.

I still try to limit my time on my phone throughout the week to make sure I am present to my community and to the mission we have. This does not mean I don’t miss people or that I love them any less. It means God has called me to be able to fully know and fully love the people He is placing before me. Answering this call to love and be present to this community has given me the great joy of better loving those that are farther away and allowing myself to be loved by them in a new way.

Emma is a missionary from Lincoln, NE. She enjoys reading, playing soccer, and flossing twice a day (not the dance move).