When I first said, Yes, to God’s call to serve Him in the Dominican Republic, back on November 8, I had 186 more days left at First Pres, and 196 more days before my training began. I now have 37 more days left as Church Administrator (which is actually only 27 working days. Yipes!), and only 47 days until I’m in Colorado for the first part of my training.
The Lord willing, in 170 days I will be in the Dominican Republic, having completed my work at First Pres, 3 weeks of mission training in Colorado, and 3 months of language school in Guatemala.
Okay, I’m having a bit of trouble breathing. Be right back…
My life feels like one of those montages in movies, when the lead character walks along a street, or sits looking out a window, or drives in a car, and around him the seasons change. I feel like I’ve been sitting at my kitchen table, typing on this laptop, while outside the leaves changed color, fell off, snow and ice coated the bare branches, then melted away, and now the trees out back are abloom with pale pink flowers. I’m even wearing the same frumpy sweat pants!
I don’t want all of this to zip past without me taking time to end well. I want time to tell those I love how much they have meant to me these past years. I want to drink in the sights of our beautiful Shenandoah Valley. I want to leave my job having done all I can to ease the transition of my leaving. I want each conversation to be important and significant. And, of course, I want time to complete all the stuff that needs to be done in the next – gulp! – 47 days.
Very honestly, while part of me wants things to slow down so I can savor these last weeks, the other part of me wants to fast forward. Fast forward past the packing and sorting and decisions about what to take or not, past the final weeks of support raising. And, past the little wounds as I cut tie after tie.
Instead of just a quick yank of the bandaid, May is going to be a month of leave-taking. In fact, I’ve dubbed it ‘snot and tears’ month. It’s going to be a month of plenty of crying as I say goodbye and goodbye and goodbye. As I told a friend just this week, I’m one of those who looks awful when I cry. Blotchy skin, bloodshot eyes, and a red nose that simply won’t quit running!
Part of me feels slightly morbid. It’s not like I’m dying, I’m just going someplace else. Not only that, I’m going where God has called me. If I believe God is calling me away, I need to trust that He will provide for those He is calling to stay. I need to have confidence that even if we are apart, my relationships with dear friends in Christ will remain. They will be changed, but at their core they will remain because they are built on our unchanging Savior.
I have a couple of lifelong friends where no matter how much time passes, when we get to see each other, we pick up right where we left off. Two of them, Geraldine and Elizabeth, have been my friends since elementary school. Both are women of the kind of deep faith which comes from having walked through valleys and wilderness. Both make me want to love Jesus more fully. Both are also hilarious and a ton of fun to be around!
My years in Harrisonburg have added more friends who know all about me and love me with Jesus’ love, red runny nose and all. Oh, I am going to miss you so much!!
And, again, I have to trust. Trust that God will bless and keep and make His face to shine on all of those I love. That in His perfect timing He will bring us together again, here, or in the D.R., or when we are finally Home. Trust that the One who is calling me to go, is already there. Trust He is also here, to continue drawing others to Him in this place as well. God is good, and He is with us in all our beginnings and endings.
In all things, even this bittersweet time, God is with us. The One who was, and is, and is to come has promised, and He is faithful. So, I'll buy some more tissues and embrace this time of tears, and yes, of joy, in Jesus!