“How many guests are coming this week?” Shifra asked her mother warily, hoping for the best.

“Shifra,” Ma sighed. “This is a Mitzvah! It’s a very big Mitzvah. We are doing hachnassas orchim, and”-

“I know that it’s a mitzvah!” Shifra’s voice was a decibel too high and she quickly mumbled- “Sorry, it’s just that”-

“I know you’re upset sweetie,” Ma cut in, “and I wish that I could somehow make things easier for you, but this is our mission for now and with Hashem’s help we’ll do our best. And,” Ma added as an afterthought, “it’s only for a year.”

“Yeah, ok,” Shifra said, pasting a bright, albeit fake, smile on her face. If there was anyone who deserved a break it was Ma, and Shifra knew that. If Ma could work so hard and still maintain a positive attitude, then so could she. Or at least, she could try…

“Ma?” she asked tentatively, “Uh… so how many guests are coming?”

“Oh, sorry,” Ma laughed tiredly and rubbed a hand over her eyes. “I forgot to tell you. We’re going to have seven guest with Hashem’s help. Not too many, huh?”

Huh. Shifra bit her lip. Seven was a lot. Just not as many as usual.

Shifra’s family was temporarily living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the year on Shlichus. Being that there wasn’t any Jewish school in the area, Shifra had to make do with learning online. Though she kept on reminding herself that it was for a Mitzvah, Shifra seriously missed her friends and family back in America. And to top it all off, Shifra was missing out in her special 8th grade year. Yearbook, graduation trip, the graduation itself… it just wasn’t fair.

Things were definitely easier for Meir, Shifra’s 6 year old brother. He was starting 1st grade this year and probably wouldn’t even mind moving to Antarctica. He was one of those easy going types. Shifra on the other hand… Shifra found moving extremely hard.

Every time Shifra spoke to a friend or family member from Monsey (where she lived), Shifra always felt a sharp squeeze of pain in her chest. Oh, how she wanted to just go back!

To be continued…