Thursday, March 26, 2015

When You Just Can't Say Goodbye

Every single morning. Every morning, when I woke up, I thought about it and knew that I couldn't do it. It loomed over my head like a cloud. I just could not say goodbye.

The months leading up to our departure for the Philippines 6 years ago, I looked forward to going, but I dreaded the day that I would have to say goodbye to my mom and dad. I could not do it. When I say my family is close, I don't just mean your typical family closeness. I mean CLOSE. We have no secrets. We tell each other everything. We have walked through some of the most horrible, nightmarish things together and become closer. I talked to my parents at least once a day. How could I leave them behind?

Goodbyes are a huge part of missionary life. Just ask my kids. You get settled somewhere (which only takes about a week now), and then you leave or someone else leaves. Constant goodbyes.

From the very beginning, other missionaries had told me about this and so I started praying. "Lord, teach us how to say goodbye well. Help us to love people to the fullest even though we know that we will have to say goodbye." I also added, a little selfishly, "And please, Lord. Give us new family wherever we go..."

Well, the day came, a hot summer day in July. Our entire family, extended family, & friends came to the airport to send us off. As we told each person goodbye, the knot in my stomach kept growing as I knew my parents were getting closer and closer. And then it was there. I remember shaking and crying as they wrapped their arms around me. They told me how much they loved me, how proud they were, and to go with their blessing. And my mom said her famous words, "It will all be ok." She slid a beautiful ring on my finger to remind me of her and we turned with our bags, our 4 and 2 year old and took the first step on our new adventure.

It wasn't until I sit down in my seat on the plane, that I realized the moment I had dreaded for so long was gone. And I also realized something else. I didn't do it. HE did. He gave me all I needed in that moment. No amount of worrying or fearing could prepare me for that moment. He didn't give me what I needed before the moment.

My brother, Dan
Many goodbyes have been said since then and I can definitely say that they don't get easier, but I don't dread them as much because I know that HE always comes through.

Oh, and remember that last little selfishly said prayer? Ha!

Back in 2006, the Lord led several families to start missionary training together, several of them being with New Tribes Mission Aviation, like us. Today, 9 years later, 5 of us serve on the same field together as a team. Our kids have been born and grown up together. We have moved together, learned language & culture together, gone through fun times and hard times, and lived life together.


He has given us an awesome group of tribal church planters to serve here on our island and many of them have become some of our very best friends.

Elsie & Gilbert
(Elsie has lived with us for 6 years & married Gilbert in 2013. They are some of our very best friends.)
One of my dearest friends, Philippa, & my "mom," Julie
The kids with some of their dearest friends, Naomi, Lydia, & Evie
I am so very humbled to think of that little prayer I murmured so many years ago and to look at the big ways God has answered. I still miss my family in America, but God has given me a new family here. A new home that I miss just as much when I'm gone. No one will ever take the place of my family, my parents, my brother, my nieces and nephews, but my sweet and loving Father God has given me more people to love- more parents, more brothers and sisters, more nieces and nephews than I ever would have had I never said that first goodbye. 

My niece in America, Makayla 
My "nephew" & "nieces"- Judah, Zoey, & Izzy
Don't worry. Don't be afraid to say goodbye. Whether it is just for a time or saying goodbye to someone in death. May it do to you what it has for us- be blessed with more people to love and look forward with even more excitement to the land of NO MORE GOODBYES! And family forever!

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." -Mt. 10:37-39