Life is full of many things, some pretty and some ugly. We want everyone to see the pretty stuff – the things we brag about, sharing every last detail. But there’s usually also stuff that’s ugly. This is the stuff we hide. We don’t like to think about it even ourselves.
So far we’ve shared the pretty stuff with our ministry, but there’s an ugly side, a hard side. Things that bring us to tears oftentimes.
Today we said “See ya later” to the missionary families we’ve been working with in La Paz. It was rough. There have been tears in our family tonight. We’ve been here one month. That’s all, but in some ways we feel like we’ve known these families forever. And leaving is hard.
Our family spent over 20 years in the Navy saying “See ya later” to more friends than we can count. We learned to never say goodbye. One, it’s just WAY too hard. And two, a lot of times we do see them again. But I’ll say this, it stinks. It didn’t get easier just because we had done it so many times. If anything, it got harder. But we continued to jump in immediately when we moved somewhere new. We made friends quickly. We found a new church, a new grocery store, a new friend to list on our kids’ emergency contact paperwork. We continued to cry and mourn when we left to go somewhere new, knowing the new place wouldn’t be like the old place. It would be different, but we would hold to the hope and knowledge that every time we moved before, we’d eventually make that new place home and it would one day be hard to leave too. I had no idea that the 20+ years in the Navy was part of our preparation for becoming missionaries.
The very nature of our ministry, reaching out to serve those who serve, means we’re constantly on the move. We’re only in a place a short time. We connect quickly. Our kids connect even faster. (I have to say, it’s amazing how fast our kids connect. I am SO proud of them.) And then we leave. It’s hard on us and it’s hard on the missionaries. These families have left their homes to make a new home in the place God called them to serve. For some it’s a lifetime and others, it’s a season, and it’s just hard. They’re in a new place, finding a new grocery store, making new friends, and many times even in a new language. (Tangent – Missionary kids are remarkable. They’re called Third Culture Kids. They are usually from one culture, live in a second, but become a blend of the two – creating a unique third culture. It’s sometimes difficult for them to feel like they ever fit in. Next time you meet a missionary kid, tell them you think they’re awesome, because they are.)
We know we’ll stay in touch and we hope to see these families again. But we know that even if our paths don’t cross again on this earth, we will see each other one day in Heaven.
Jesus makes even the ugly stuff beautiful.