Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Goodbyes

Probably one of the hardest and most emotionally exhausting parts of saying goodbye prior to furlough, especially for our children, was the sheer number of times they had to do it. First there were the school-related goodbyes. On the last day of school, and at year-end class Christmas parties, friends and schoolmates shared how much they would miss Eva, Isabel and Owen.

Eva and her classmates

Isabel took it the hardest initially. Her class had a pretty pillow prepared for her and also for another classmate who was moving away. On it was a photo of all the students as well as the words "We will miss you!" After hugging everyone goodbye, and finally her much-loved teacher, Isabel and I walked slowly back to the car as tears flooded her eyes and she cried and cried. My heart ached along with hers.

Isabel with her friends

Owen's class (with little brothers added!)

The second round of goodbyes was a little harder for everyone. These took place during our final week in Iquique during long and sometimes stressful days of packing. We were really touched, however, by the invitations as they came from unexpected sources: the parents of Eva's 4th-grade classmates; the parents of Owen's soccer team; and our next-door neighbors with whom we've been building relationship over the past three years.

the "despedida" with Eva's classmates and parents

In true Iquique fashion these "despedidas" (goodbye parties) were held late at night. One didn't start until after 10 p.m. and two ended after 1 o'clock in the morning! Even so we enjoyed the time to share with these families God has brought into our life and prayed for the opportunity to share our faith with them one last time. God answered through their questions! At one event, a father asked very pointed and curious questions about our church and ministry and future plans. We spent a long time talking about God's work and we continue to pray that He will send someone to water the seeds that were planted that night.

the "despedida" with Owen's soccer buddies and parents

Of course the final and most difficult goodbyes were with our colleagues and church family. On the 8th of January we spent our last Sunday this year with those God has given us the privilege to walk and worship beside here in Iquique. We realized some time ago that we still wanted to dedicate Ian and Alec to the Lord (something we did when our older kids were babies but had put on hold during the little boys' transition into our family.) It seemed fitting to do so with our brothers and sisters in Christ who had welcomed them home with us and witnessed their growth these past two years.

our precious children are on loan to us from God

Eva's teacher joined us at church for the first time on a Sunday morning, in order to witness Ian and Alec's dedication. It was very special to have her with us! After praying for our role as parents to our youngest little boys, Pastor Hugo asked the whole family to come up front for a time of prayer as we prepared for departure. I think this picture reflects a little of what the kids were feeling in that moment. Sadness, insecurity, some confusion. We trust and have shared with our children that God is going to use this year in an extraordinary way in their lives. They believe it because they believe us, but it is hard to see beyond what they know.

praying for our family and furlough

Later that afternoon I had a quiet moment with Owen. As a typical boy, he's not usually one to spill his feelings but when I brought up our flight to Santiago the next day he said: "I think I might cry." That simple, quiet admission brought tears to my eyes.

Thankfully, God has allowed us a special time of transition in our final week before flying to the States. We arrived yesterday to the welcoming arms of "the cousins" in Santiago and look forward to making some sweet memories with family before one last goodbye. This one will be brief because midway through next year, my sister and brother-in-law will be on furlough with their family as well! We will have the wonderful opportunity for some family moments with ALL of our family in 2012, and for that we are truly grateful.

2 comments:

Brad and Carrie said...

I hate all the goodbyes that our poor children have to endure. Glad they all went well and you are now among family in the states.

Terri Fisher said...

Doesn't take much to resurface the emotions that our goodbyes had on us as MKs...or at least on me! Praying for all of you and can't wait to see you in a few days!!