Things that Never End
There is the song of course. I probably don’t have to write out the lyrics for you to picture the little lamb and red curly-haired woman singing…
“This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people… started singing it not knowing what it was AND they’ve been singing it F-O-R-ever just because…”
Go ahead just try not to hum a bar. Now good luck getting that out of your head!
Worse than that song running circles in your mind all day, are the goodbyes that are a never-ending cycle for us. A friend once told me that goodbyes just make room for more hellos. What a sweet way to look at it but… in my mind that doesn’t ring true.
Every goodbye I say tears a little piece of my heart. I have to work hard not to let the scar tissue grow tough, callous and indifferent. I have to work hard to allow new people in, to make new friends. My survival instincts tell me to shut people out, to close off and remain aloof.
Our life is one of constant transition. I’ve mentioned that before. Yet, even if we remain in the same country, the same city, our friends are always coming and going; whether for home assignment, another field of service or to their passport country for good. If you add to that our coming and going for home assignment and the flood of goodbyes to family and friends you can see how the cycle is one of continuous grieving.
This year several hard goodbyes are imminent. Some of our closest friends are leaving. I’m conflicted in my emotions. I’m excited for the next chapter in their lives while at the same time extremely sad to see them go. It’s hard to say goodbye to any friend but especially one whose passport country is literally on the other side of the world. However, the tears haven’t come. My grief is silent as I try to look on the positive side of things. And while I know that in time I will make new close friends for now I’m simply missing my old ones and possibly eating a lot of ice cream.
Easter just two years ago found us celebrating in South Sudan with teammates from 5 different countries and South Sudanese from many tribes. We cooked all morning over charcoal, went to church where there was much dancing and then feasted on lamb stew and rice from disposable plates under flame trees while sitting on plastic chairs. We shared the Gospel story through song, translated it into Arabic and some heard it for the first time. Our house was a place to hear of Jesus’ sacrifice and His love.
This year we celebrated in the comfort of our new home with friends and teammates who work in 3 different countries. A big bang from the night before meant the electricity was out through the night and into the morning disrupting my plans to throw a roast in the crockpot (not even an option in South Sudan). Instead we cooked with the gas oven and stove top to make the meal, a much easier medium to work with than charcoal. After church we gathered around our wooden dining table to eat off of matching ceramic plates and metal cutlery, our conversation focused more on encouragement for tired teammates while the meal was a taste of home, something not normally served in the countries they work. Our house is a place of refuge and a place to be refreshed.
Sometimes I wonder why God brought us to South Sudan and back again. I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answer for sure. Sometimes it feels like we were pulled out of the front lines only to be placed on the back burner; always hearing exciting stories but not quite able to participate in them. Yet both roles are important; that of evangelist and that of encourager to other Believers. There are many examples in the New Testament of both.
For now we are certain this is where God has placed us. Pray for us that in the role he now has us we will be effective in spreading the Gospel by supporting our teammates well and that if there is opportunity we will embrace it.
I have a love/hate relationship with this social media giant.
I hate that I get envious of other people’s posts about the awesome lives they are living (Read about my house envy here.). I hate that it skews my vision of others’ lives because of course who wants to post the terrible, horrible, no good very bad days for the world to see? I hate that it causes me to compare my body to others. Can we please stop posting pictures of itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny bikinis on the beach?! I hate that I waste precious time while my son naps scrolling through checking out posts or clicking on meaningless articles when I should wash dishes or write blogs, things that are difficult to do when Little Bear is awake!
Most of all I hate that Facebook is the home of sensationalism, that it is a platform to spread unchecked facts, hate, bitterness and inappropriate photos.
Yet, I love how it makes the miles almost disappear. I love that I can keep up more easily with close friends all over the world. I love seeing pictures of my friends’ kids, fun activities and motivational stories. I love that it gets information out quickly to a wide audience, like how this blog will post to Facebook automatically! I love how it mobilizes people to pray, like with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and recently when Little Bear had a really high fever.
Knowing that people in different time zones were praying for us even while we tried to get some sleep was priceless! More and more I am learning the peace that comes through prayer. I’m so thankful that Facebook enabled me to get the word out quickly and then notified me that people were interceding for us.
I don’t think I’ll give up Facebook but maybe I can work toward giving up some of those bad habits that Facebook brings out in me!
All my closest friends used to be in one place. Then I graduated college and friends moved up the Eastern coast of the United States. Then I moved overseas. My group of friends expanded across countries, to Kenya. Then I married Bear and now our friend groups have exploded to include countries all over the world!
We are so thankful for our friends, near and far, who are dear to our hearts; who encourage us through letters, emails, phone calls; who pray for us, some EVERY day; who love on us by sending things like gelatin in the mail and Paddington Bear for our kiddo; people who eat chocolate chip cookies with us, workout alongside us, play crazy card games or babysit Little Bear or endure LONG flights to visit us.
Friends, we are thankful for you!
Praising the Lord for our newlywed friends!
Touring Kitengela Glass Company with visiting friends.
We love our volleyball group.
A dear friend just reminded me, “All of our homes are just temporary shelters, no matter how big our mortgage. Some of us just get to borrow ours a little longer than others.” Life in general is full of transitions. Since our life seems to have a few more than the average, it’s a good thing my blankets are easily packed, as are a lot of my other decorations (minus the giraffes!) that help turn a house into a home.
While I have mentioned to Bear once or twice that my fabulous couches are going with us wherever we might end up, my goal this year is to collect items I can take on our many journeys without the aid of a shipping container. Light weight items like the beautiful wood signs with quirky sayings and gorgeous artwork I am now collecting or my plain navy blue linen curtains that I love.
My pillow covers are fun African fabrics. I’m working on a bright green, blue and orange table runner that I’ve pieced together from scraps of fabric left over from other projects. A train quilt decorates Little Bear’s wall. Across from it hang canvas animals on wooden frames from Amani Ya Juu. Pictures of family and friends line our walls held up by tiny, little clothes pins.
All these things, while just things, are important. Best of all, they can be packed in a suitcase! Thank you to everyone who helped make us feel at home. Thanks for the extra donation that allowed us to re-cover our well-loved couches. Thanks for the beautiful wedding quilt. Thanks for the gift of teaching me to sew. Thanks for sending us back with beautiful, hand-painted wooden signs. Most of all thanks for the memories that can be printed out in pictures!