Thursday, June 9, 2016

Sometimes It Feels Like Everyone Is Leaving

When you say yes to being a missionary, you sign on to a life of saying goodbye.  But not always in ways you expect.

You expect to say goodbye to your old life.  To all your friends, your church, every person in your family.  But what you might not realize is that once you get to your new home, you'd better get used to saying goodbye there too.

In an age where an year seems like a Really Long Time to live overseas, it's rare to find those who stay three years,  Or five.  Or twenty.  Of course, I'm not minimizing the contribution of those who stay a short time, because we need those people too.

Many, many people have come and gone from our mission team since we arrived in 2001.  But there have always been the ones who stayed; the fixtures, the ones who were here before us and never left.
But now, this month, they are leaving too.

Steve and Carol Lyons opened this field for ReachGlobal.  In many ways, none of the rest of our team would be here if it wasn't for them.  Betty Carlson joined them shortly after.  All three worked here 20 years, but before that, they spent a whole other lifetime in Congo.  They speak a bazillion languages (okay, just five, but that's almost like a bazillion).  They have been the grandparents and auntie of our team since the beginning.

Josiah and "Babu Simba," 2010

Carol, aka "Bibi Simba," who always cooked up something delicious

"Aunt" Betty and Grace, 2006

The Aiken family also got here before us.  We've raised our kids together; we were a part of the same church plant for 5 years, and they've just always been a part of our lives.  Now they are leaving too.

Aiken family in 2010

Everyone else came and went, but the Lyons, and Betty, and the Aikens always stayed.  We create surrogate families on the mission field; we all are here without our extended families and so we cling to each other.  But it's times like this that reminds me that they too are transient.

Now there is no one in Tanzania with ReachGlobal who got here before us.  We are the veterans.  It's kind of lonely, and sad.  I'm tired of saying goodbye.

Reach Global Team, 2002

Thanksgiving, 2005

McKayla and Grace, ages 2 and 1, 2007

McKayla and Grace, ages 3 and 4

Reach Global Team, 2008

4th of July,  2010
Easter, 2015

Reach Global Tanzania, Last Sunday, June 5th

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