(Above) From left, Rhonda Lee, Shirley Brooking and Major Sandra Budden 

Whether friends live close by or far away, true friendships last. Such is the case for Salvationists Major Sandra Budden, Shirley Brooking and Rhonda Lee. 

Their friendship began 15 years ago, when Major Sandra was the corps officer at The Salvation Army’s Halifax Citadel in Nova Scotia. She invited her neighbour, Rhonda, to attend the church. Shirley was already a member. As events and church activities unfolded, they developed a life-long friendship, which eventually took them across the globe to Papua New Guinea.

“We have common interests in church activities, spending time over coffee and travelling together,” Shirley says. “Six years ago, we visited Sandra in Winnipeg, shortly after a close friend of ours passed away, so we could share in the celebration of her life.”

They attend annual women’s ministries conferences, and travelled to the 2015 Boundless Congress in London, England.

“And every summer, when Sandra comes back to Halifax on vacation to visit her daughters, we make sure we get together for coffee or a meal,” says Rhonda.

As Salvation Army officers are known to move often, Sandra and her husband, Owen, relocated to Winnipeg, and then Papua New Guinea. This past year, Shirley and Rhonda made the two-day trip to visit Sandra and Owen in Papua New Guinea, and had the opportunity to stay with them at the Salvation Army school where they are administrators. 

“It is very meaningful to me that they have journeyed across Canada and around the world to visit us,” says Sandra. “It was an added blessing when they came to Papua New Guinea to visit us.”

Their friendship is based on shared values, dependability, travelling and enjoying life. 

“It is such a blessing to know that friendship can be maintained even though we only see each other once a year,” says Sandra. “That’s the gift of true friendship.”  

Jan Keats is the divisional emergency disaster services co-ordinator in the Maritime Division.

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