I am standing outside my house in the shade, blessing the Father that the air is finally cool on a small breeze. My roommates come in from the market and another comes from inside the house to join me. My neighbor comes over with her grandson and we stand around and talk. I understand her. She understands me. We talk about the weather, how her grandson hasn’t been sleeping. We complain how hot it is together. We talk about the future.
Then friends come and stop by, choosing to take time out of their day to come to my house and wish me well. We exchange small gifts. I take pictures and give hugs, because goodbyes are worth the hugs and physical contact, especially since everyone is healthy. I’m leaving tomorrow, and there is joy to be shared and grief to feel.
Was it only a week ago that I found out that May 11th wouldn’t be the day that schools opened at last? Was it only a week ago that I admitted to being disappointed, sad even? How quickly and exponentially that sadness has turned. Preschools are continuing to be closed, and it may be closed indefinitely until September. Our team is changing in rapid fire motion. There’s finances to discuss, restructuring schedules, managing and prioritizing activities, trying to find what’s next. Closing the school wouldn’t have been enough to leave because there is so much to be done! But the Spirit was moving.
A global pandemic might not be enough to make me leave, after all, the cases here are vastly lower than that of the USA’s. It’s statistically safer, warmer, more open than the states. But there was a flight out of the country. The first international flight in a month, and the last one for an indefinite period of time…What do you do? If there’s uncertainty on either side, where do you turn? Do you go and return and face the uncertainty of the world with your family? Armed with truth and guided each day by His spirit, seeking His will for your future two months early? Or do you stay and keep going, trudging through the uncertainty with your teammates? Armed with the truth and guided each day by His spirit, seeking His will for two more months in the same place?
I asked for a new vision, a new path, a new way. I asked for a new idea, new heart, fresh mind. But what I felt instead was…closure. I had accomplished what I said that I would. I had finished what I had set out to do. There wasn’t anything on my heart to continue. I was happy with what I had done. It wasn’t perfect, far from it, but it felt like it was time, and last week, a day after that blog post, I began making preparations to leave.
And what a week it has been. I have been humbled by my leadership’s generosity and kindness, encouraged by friends and family from afar, loved and cared for by my friends and students here, and somehow, against all odds, was able to see the people I needed to see. (pictured below are only some of the goodbyes)
I even got a tire changed! Because when you get a flat tire the first week you’re in South East Asia the odds are you’ll get one your last week too.
But standing in the front of my house, speaking with my neighbor, was maybe the culminating moment of all my time. In some ways it was all I wanted. To have a relationship with my neighbors outside of just working. To be able to speak and understand. To love without expectation. To lay the foundation and seeds for future work.
I have lived in South East Asia. Made a home here. And now, in a strange turn of events, it’s time to return to start over and serve somewhere else. I have been reminiscing about my two years here, remembering all the fun, exciting, difficult, hot, exhausting, challenging, exhilarating, uncertain days I’ve had. I am so blessed by what was done in and through me.
I think that in times of grief and change and joy it’s helpful to use art to fully express your emotions. Often music resonates with me because it’s the words my soul wants to say- but I didn’t know how to piece it together. The song that I keep coming back to is “Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me” by CityAlight. I’ll write two stanzas that seem to encapsulate what I’m feeling in this time of transition.
For He has said that He will bring me home
And day by day I know He will renew me
Until I stand with joy before the throne
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat
Yet not I, but through Christ in me
Finished, but not yet done. Secure, whatever comes.
A Daughter Among Sons.