They began on Friday morning as I said goodbye to my new friends I met at language school. What a beautiful group of people. The instructors, the leaders, the "drill sargents" and the families setting out on new adventures. I will miss you all.
I was priviledged tp spend two weeks getting to know a group of amazing people. I am filled with so much admiration and respect for the places they are going and the sacrifices they are making. I can't even begin to imagine packing up a family with four or five children and moving to "mysteryville", as one person called her country. Many are taking families into places that can't be named for the protection of them and the people they go to serve. One family is even taking Grandma. How great is that?!
Thirty one adults, 28 children, 15 different countries. That is where our class participants are going to serve God in a variety of different ways. The places people are going and the work they will be doing is just amazing. The opportunites to learn and share from each other will only make my mission better.
It was hard to say good bye.
Saturday was the next of my goodbyes. They come with a bit of heartbreak and a great amount of joy. I was honored and priviledged to tell the beginning of the story of my journey to South Sudan to the Fall Gathering for Grace Presbytery Presbyterian Women.
I was honored by the Rev. Dr. Betsy Pense's blessings and prayers and the story of me being "bucketless". It's a story of me coming into her office when she was our interim pastor, after a Bible study about the woman at the well and how excited she was to tell the Jesus story that she ran off without her bucket. I stopped by to talk about my mission - with one car key in my hand. Not the usual conglomeration of purses and bags of Bibles and books and bags of things we're going to work on. Ever since then she's called me "bucketless" because I travel so lightly. Today I left with my bucket overflowing and I will never be bucketless again. I kept one of hers as a reminder of all the love and support she and the other women bless me with,
The Rev. Lucia McKee Kremzar, gave an amazing sermon and I was so blessed by her words that I cried all the way through. I was looking around the room at all the women gathered there, thinking two years ago when I came home I could probably count all I knew on one hand. Now I am so blessed to know almost everyone there.
And the tears on my face hadn't even begun to dry when Pastor Darla Blatnik began communion and I was served along with all my friends. Her closing prayer and blessings for my journey just brought a new flood.
And as we ate lunch and began to prepare to leave I was surrounded by more hugs and greetings and promises for prayers while I am gone, I was just overwhelmed and amazed by all the love and support.
As I stood there singing "In His Presence" at the beginning of the service, I thought "How right those words are". We are in His presence. How blessed am I? A little sadness took over as I realized this is the first of many goodbyes to come in the next few weeks.
When I was at language school last week, I remember someone telling me she was praying for God to let her say good by well. Well, women of Grace Presbytery, YOU said goodbye well. I only pray that I can do such a wonderful job.
Sunday was off to more goodbyes. I was honored to be invited to First Pressbyterian Church in Granbury. I count this church as one of my "homes" and as I looked around the sanctuary I realized how many people I count as friends. This will probably be the last time I get to visit them before I go. That makes me sad. But I know they will be waiting when I return. And, there is hope in that.
Sunday night, was not a goodbye. Yet. It was the Session meeting where they read and voted on my resignation. As someone made the motion to accept my letter, he said "with regret". Me too, a little. I regret leaving at this exciting time in the work of my home church, but I leave with much anticipation for the work to come in God's wider church. My final goodbyes haven't started here yet, but I know they will be hard when they do.
May God bless you all as richly as you bless me! I am honored and priviledged to be "your" missionary.