A few days ago, I (Stacey) sat chatting with my dear friend and neighbor. We were both contemplating our upcoming “goodbye” because she and her family were preparing to leave for a visit to South Africa and we will not be around when they return. We tried to make a few jokes to lighten the sadness weighing us down. She dryly quipped that we should take a “selfie” of the two of us and put it on facebook. Only she called it “fakebook”. I had to laugh. We debated about whether we should take a “before” shot (pre-tears) or “after” and both decided that an “after” shot was out! Nothing would ruin the mood of facebook like a messy picture of the two of us with mascara running down our tear-streaked faces, noses red and running. It was good to laugh before we cried.
Funny, how God always puts the most beautiful people in my life – for a season. But oh how it hurts when He moves me (or them) away. This time its me.
M– is gone now. She left on Saturday…no one to borrow a cup of sugar from or share a coveted piece of dark chocolate… As a matter of fact, pretty much every one on our little neighborhood compound is away. So I went over and sat in my neighbor’s house for a little solitude today (yes, she left me the key). I needed some alone time to pray and think about this last year and four months in Kenya. I thought of our SIM South Sudan teammates.
Within a couple of weeks of arriving last year, Mark and I found ourselves in neck-deep. It was like jumping off a high dive (or a cliff, some days). I wondered aloud if I would ever feel like I fit in, if they would ever be like the missionary “family” I remembered in Zambia. Slowly, the months passed. Our team braved robberies, medical emergencies, marital and family stress, interpersonal conflict, new babies born, and multiple evacuations – to name a few. We prayed, encouraged, counseled, mediated, skyped, and visited. We found ourselves in awe of them –their resilience, their love, their fortitude. They embraced us, wholeheartedly. They embraced our children. And when we struggled with our own really tough circumstances, they reached out and loved us –like family. We fit in.
That’s why it is all the harder to leave later this month. The only thing that keeps my mascara from running when I think about it is that Mark and I will travel back in January for their annual Spiritual Life Conference.
Still, don’t expect too many happy pictures from me on facebook this month. Yes, I am excited about the new roles awaiting us with SIM USA back in Charlotte. I also couldn’t be happier that we will be living right down the road from my twin sister and her family. And it makes me REALLY REALLY happy to hear that Katie is more like her old self again already…
But for now, we are still saying goodbye here and, just to be honest, it hurts.
“Though the Lord brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.” Lam.3:32