Sunday, October 03, 2004

Saying Goodbye, Again

No matter how often you do it, it’s always difficult to say goodbye. Sandy and I have been saying goodbye for 36 years.

On the day we were married we left our family and friends and headed for college in another state. After graduation we lived in Texas for five years, 1,000 miles from our home in Arkansas. In 1976 we said goodbye again and moved to Kenya.

Tomorrow Sandy and I lug our bags to the airport, returning to our apartment in Asia. Our parents are old now, our kids are grown and we have three grandkids. You would think that we would have this saying goodbye down to an art form, but it’s still difficult. Who knows what the next year will bring? We don’t dwell on the fact that we may never see our family again, but we know each time we leave it’s a possibility. I dread tomorrow, I hate to say goodbye.

I asked Sandy last night, as we drove away from our kid’s house for the last time, if she wishes sometimes we would just settle down in one place near our family? I look at my friends and other family members, many who have lived in the same house for years, and there is a certain envy I have for their lifestyle. How great it would be to face getting old in familiar surroundings, watching my granddaughters and grandson grow up. Being able to see my brother whenever I want, instead of the infrequent times that we have when our paths cross. Sandy is close to her family as well and it how nice it would be for her to share the holidays and special occasions with those she loves.

“No,” she answered. “I’m grateful for the life God has given us. Our ministry overseas is more exciting now than anytime in our life.”

Indeed, we have much to look forward to. I have teaching assignments lined up for the rest of the year and Sandy is deeply involved in establishing Bible Study Fellowship classes in our city. We both enjoy living overseas and, quite frankly, we have more of reason to be in Asia than we do in the States.

While it would be nice to be settled in one place near our loved ones, reality and God’s direction in our lives makes saying goodbye tolerable. Our children have their own lives; the grandkids are growing up and in a few years will be less attached to “Doc” and “Grammy.” Our parents have their other children around to tend to their needs, for which we are extremely grateful. The life God has given us is one to celebrate, not regret. Though we will miss those closest to us on this earth, it’s all temporary. Our family loves us, but they understand our role in His work and that makes saying goodbye a little easier.

Still, it will be tough to get on that plane tomorrow. Thankfully, one day the travels will be over and we will enjoy being together for eternity.