Early this Saturday morning while our neighbors blissfully slept (or at least tried to!), our family headed to church to say another goodbye. Already last Sunday our church had gathered around colleagues Hugo and Debora Armijo with their children Debora and Johnny, to pray with them and for them on their final weekend of ministry in Iquique. This church that they founded in the living room of a home ten years ago will greatly miss them.
|the pastors and deacons pray for the Armijo family on Sunday, February 24, 2013|
Throughout the week there were more goodbyes, expressions of love Chilean-style (meaning always with food and mostly last-minute!) The ladies gathered on Tuesday morning for prayer and a farewell breakfast for Deborah (mom); the young people surprised Debora (daughter) and Johnny with a farewell that night. I know Hugo and Debora had invitations every day, and on Thursday after prayer meeting the men had a farewell cookout with Hugo (my husband arrived home around 2 AM!)
|loving friends from church gathered at the airport for a final farewell this morning|
This morning they were exhausted, having received well wishers throughout the day yesterday which meant they packed almost through the night. We empathize, having so recently had our own packing, farewells and trip to the USA, but recognize that the range of emotions our friends are experiencing is so much deeper than any we have ever known.
They leave not because this is their scheduled year of furlough ministry but as a result of personal tragedy. On December 29, they lost their 21-year old twin daughter to suicide. God has carried their family in supernatural ways since that day but their need for counsel, rest and clarity is understandably great. They leave without knowing for sure whether they will return to this ministry or if God will direct them in other ways. This week has held the details that are always stressful yet normal to moving - such as doctor's visits, selling or giving away items, packing and cleaning house - but it has also involved heartbreaking facets like a final trip to the cemetery and tying up the legal investigation into their daughter's death.
Please pray along with us for this precious family. We love them and will miss them, as will so many of our church family who have even more years of close connection and friendship with them. Yet we trust that God will use this time to minister to their hearts, giving them much-needed quiet and solace as a family as well as godly counsel and comfort through His people in the States. They have touched so many lives in moments of joy and most recently in sorrow, and we hope that now their lives will be touched by much grace in return.