Sunday, July 17, 2011
Tomorrow I'll be boarding a bus that will take me far from this town and these people. Can my time here really be nearly finished? My mind is not ready to grapple with that thought. This five-and-a-half months doesn’t seem to fit any concept of time. It’s been both short and long. The sheer volume of things I have learned, experienced and felt . . . how could it all have happened in such a short span time? I’ve no idea.
I've begun realizing the loss I will feel when I leave. I came here and did my best to take these people and this land into my heart. Only now do I realize how successful I've been. They are a part of me and now I'm faced with leaving a part of myself behind. Now I can neither stay nor leave without being separated from people I care about.
I love the wide open spaces, the violent rainstorms, and the thatched huts; but it is the people that will make it hard to get on that bus. It's the people I'll be thinking about as my plane takes off from Ndjamena. A few months ago, these people were just unfamiliar faces. Now they have names and personalities. Now I call them brother and sister. Now we joke and laugh. Now we sit on benches and talk about life, family, the future, and God. The patients who became my friends—or even the people I shared a smile with at the market . . . it’s not going to be easy to leave these people. Leaving without knowing if I'll ever see them again is difficult.
I find myself often talking about Heaven. I tell them I want Jesus to come soon because then we can all be together again. All over the world I have spoken hopefully of this with friends I've had to leave. Leaving Africa gives me yet another reason to want that Day to come very soon.
My time in Africa has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. Alone, as just one person, I came to love and give to Africa, but through many, many people Africa has loved and given to me. What I've contributed seems very small, but what I have gained is very large.
Now the God who led me here is the One leading me on. I'm sad. I'm happy. I'm thankful. I'm at peace.
Postscript: 3 John: 13, 14