Sometimes it seems like missionary life is one long series of “goodbyes” and “hellos.”
“Goodbye” to family and friends and your home country and culture; “hello” to new teammates, new customs, a new country, and new local friends. Then it’s time for your now-close friends to leave for furlough or move to a different mission base, or maybe you are the one moving on and it’s time to say “goodbye” again and “hello” to something new.
It’s a challenge to do this aspect of living overseas well, I think. It can be hard to stay fully engaged in a place even when you know you could be leaving at any time. Maintaining the balance between keeping up relationships at home that connect you to your old life while building friendships in your new life–– which, while so important to getting the support you need, make the “goodbyes” and “hellos” more difficult––is a struggle.
Looking from the outside, this part of life in missions seems almost cruel. From the inside, I feel the pain of it at times, but I can also see how much these frequent “goodbyes” and “hellos” are slowly working to change my perspective in ways it needs to be changed.
These meetings and partings have forced me to open my hands to God more readily and release my tight grip on my future, believing that He will take care of me, even if the people I have depended on aren’t right there anymore. This fluid lifestyle constantly works on me to be open to the possibility of positive changes (instead of seeing change as a threat), and invites me to learn to enjoy the (often roller coaster-like) journey instead of fretting over the perceived endpoint.
As my husband and I prepare to leave Indonesia to begin a new adventure working on whatever mission field the Lord has for us in the States, I am continuing to work on saying “goodbye” well and getting ready to say “hello” to a whole new life again…and learning how much I still have to learn about those lessons I just talked about!
Although our lives are changing and maybe there won’t be so many dramatic beginnings and endings, I want to continue to be thankful for the joys of “hellos,” and even the sorrows of “goodbyes.” Because both elements keep me growing and moving forward and living life in the present, as topsy-turvy as it can be!