Sunday, July 29, 2018

Saying Goodbye

One of the hardest parts of our life here is all the goodbyes. When you love people on both sides of the ocean, you are always saying goodbye to someone you care for. Additionally, where we live there seem to be many people who come and go. Right now we are in a season of many farewells. 

We had a wonderful visit with good friends from our sending church in Georgia. It was so good to reconnect with close friends and do life together for a week and a half. Below is a photo of a day I got to take two of my dearest friends out for a birthday celebration. We had hours to sit and talk! It was an amazing blessing to have these friends come all the way across the ocean to be with us! 

We also got to know some former acquaintances who are now sweet friends! We loved having them all here, but bidding them farewell at the airport was just as hard as it was the first time we left Georgia to move here. 

Soon after our team left, two of our students, who are also our neighbors, our children’s close friends and basically family to us, left for college. We have poured into their lives for five years, and we are so excited for them to move on to this next step. At the same time our whole family will miss them so much!

This coming week our summer interns head back to the US. We have had the privilege of hosting them weekly for dinner and I was asked to be a mentor for one of them. She has become so close that everyone started calling her a member of our family. So here is a picture of my 3 girls this summer. 

This week, one single friend on our team and another family that we are friends with leave for extended times in the states. There are others leaving for shorter periods of time and some leaving over the next month or so. But definitely way too many goodbyes! Here is a photo of Esther and her sweet friend having one last day together before her family leaves.  

Honestly, I think this is one of the biggest “costs” of our calling. We have to regularly say goodbye to the people we love. As I was thinking about why this is so painful every time, a few thoughts came to my mind. 

First, I could prevent some of this pain by not caring deeply for new people. Protect myself from the loss. But if you know me, you know that is not me. I choose to love deeply, even if it hurts deeply later. So I am going to continue to invest time and energy into relationships, because God has loved me at a great cost to himself. I don’t need to be self-protective. I have the perfect love of my Heavenly Father, and He is never going to leave me or forsake me! I am clinging to His love in the midst of this season.

Secondly, these goodbyes on earth are for a short time in comparison with the joy of eternity together! One friend of ours who will be leaving Uganda soon and moving to another part of the world recently had a conversation with another friend of ours who left on furlough about a month ago. When they were saying goodbye, one man said to the other, “See you at the banqueting table!” They don’t know of a time they will ever see each other again in this life. But this life is so short in comparison with eternity! When I grieve over these many goodbyes on this earth, I want to remember that times apart from loved ones, though painful, are brief in light of the joy that in heaven there will be no more tearful goodbyes. Every tear will be wiped away!  Although there have been many sad days recently, I look forward to that Day! 

While I want to take time to grieve and give my family that freedom as well, I also want to remember to love the people in front of me. My husband, my children, my teammates, my students, my neighbors, the children of GSF. We are preparing to start a new school year and God has blessed us with two new teachers! I want to think of how we can love them well. Even though it is painful when we have to say goodbye, I want to live a life a love, pointing others to the only One who can love them perfectly and forever!