New Friends in a New Place

Leidy, Kristen, and Ruth (from left to right) sharing life together while baking a traditional American fruit pie.

Leidy, Kristen, and Ruth (from left to right) sharing life together while baking a traditional American fruit pie.

Written by Ruth VanBuskirk, ESL Level 2 Volunteer

Moving to a new place can be difficult. Making new friends, learning your way around a new city, and learning new cultural norms are just a few things that can make it hard to feel “at home.” I know from experience. In the last 7 years, I’ve lived in Indiana, New Mexico, Texas, Georgia, and now Kansas. When I moved with my husband, Drew, to Kansas City last fall, we were a little tired of all that moving. But we also knew that God had a plan for this unexpected move - it wasn’t an accident. So we decided to make the most of it and try to find a community. We hadn’t decided on a church family yet, and we were still exploring the amazing faith communities around where we lived. So we thought finding a place to volunteer might be a great place to meet people before we settled on a church community. 

I began an internet search, because, well, I didn’t know anyone to ask! It was a bit overwhelming. There are so many great organizations to be a part of here in KC! A few weeks later, we were visiting with a neighbor across the street, and I brought up our hope to volunteer somewhere. Our neighbor spoke highly of Mission Adelante, so I went back to Google and checked it out for myself! 

Both Drew and I loved what we saw! We loved that Mission Adelante was doing so much for people not only new to KC, but new to the United States as well. Honestly, I really resonated with what Mission Adelante stands for - loving people from all places. 

I’m a firm believer that no experience in life is wasted if we look for ways to redeem it. God is good like that. It just seemed right that we could spend time getting to know other people who may have just moved here too and who were trying to make KC their home - we could encourage each other! I felt like we could actually understand a small part of what they might be experiencing in a new place too. Drew felt the same way, so we signed up for volunteer training for ESL. 

And, I am SO glad we did! Volunteering with ESL has been my favorite thing about moving to Kansas City. My conversation partner, Leidy, is from Colombia and she just moved here in March. We are definitely “newbies” together! We’ve had such fun getting to know each other and learn about each other’s culture. Leidy offered to teach me Spanish while she is learning English. We invited our friend Kristen, a volunteer in the citizenship class, to join us. It has been so much fun to learn and grow our friendship. As far as learning Spanish, Leidy is a great teacher. (Although I have to admit, Leidy is MUCH better at learning English than I am at Spanish). During our adventures, we’ve also traded family recipes. Leidy taught me how to make empanadas (delicioso!). I taught her and Kristen how to make a traditional American fruit pie using my own Grandma Mary’s recipe for pie crust from scratch. 

Leidy and I are now in ESL Level 2 together and are having just as much fun with our group as in Level 1 (maybe more!). I’m so thankful for Mission Adelante and how they have welcomed me (and Drew) into their family and introduced me to Leidy and others who have become our KC family too! It’s neat to see that God can help us make a new home anywhere, with people from all places.

Ruth and Leidy pictured with another volunteer and student from ESL.

Ruth and Leidy pictured with another volunteer and student from ESL.


  • Have you ever wondered what goes on at a typical night of programming at Mission Adelante? Adelante Arts Community, Refugee Kids Club, Refugee Youth Club, Citizenship Class, Latino ESL, Teens Adelante, and Kids Adelante have Observation Nights coming up! Visit to sign up!


  • Our Leaders in Training program teaches young students about the importance of eating healthy. Being an after-school program, the kids are often hungry by the time they arrive! You can help out by providing healthy snacks like granola bars, trail mix, and fruit snacks! Contact Megan Fountain if you are interested: