Friday, October 25, 2013

training // goodbyes & hellos

Saying goodbye to Colorado, then Virginia, and then a "hello" to this beautiful Honduras.
On our last couple of days at our training at MTI, we had all completely bonded more than most all of us had even imagined we would. We knew that we were being asked to live completely in community for a month -- every meal, every time you wanted to use the internet or sit on a couch, every time you went to class, you had to be with everyone. That's a lot of people time. And a lot of other-people's-kids time. We went in afraid that we might not really have an down time or that we might just get too much "people time". And for people like us, you know - extreme extroverts - if we're afraid of too much people time, that really means something.

Well by the end, the extroverts & introverts alike were broken hearted to be leaving. We all had kind of just blended into one giant family; there were times where each of us had been a part of the "village" that it takes to raise each kid, we had eaten plenty of meals with every person there, and together we'd been through plenty of both ups and downs. Even plenty of those moments where everyone has so much fun getting really too into games that you're playing. Sounds just like a family, right?

After this month of making family with people who are all going out all over the world, our training had to come to an end. And, of course, at that end when we have bonded so much, our trainers had us go through probably the hardest topics we'd cover: grief & loss, and goodbyes & hellos. During our day spent on grief & loss, we were asked to go deep and explore those losses we are guaranteed in our new vocation:

1) the loss of a stable home; a place that is familiar to you, that offers warmth and security, a place of refuge. This is the loss of consistency and dependability and balance. 2) the loss of safety; this is the most underestimated loss in missions. In America, one of our core values is safety and comfort -- what happens when you find out that the system is corrupt and justice isn't there. There are so many "what ifs" of what could actually happen to you now. 3) the loss of competence; who are we when we are stripped of our ability to contribute in a new language and a new culture? 4) the loss of identity; how to you grieve when you realize that in many ways you'll never be an insider anywhere & when you realize how much of your identity was set outside Christ before? 5) the loss of support system; we're now entering a vocation that is a revolving door of relationships, and we're being asked to grieve the loss of friendships that must be transitioned out in order to make room for new ones. 6) the loss of quickly and easily attained goals; going and making disciples of the nations is a job that's never done. It's hard to feel like you've made a difference.

We had a two hour period of time where all we did was grieve together; we sat and prayed with and in front of each other and let each other cry. It's honestly what we didn't even realize that we needed... to be able to grieve these kinds of losses of everything we know and hold dear with people who are doing the same thing. "A heart awakened to great love is also opened to great pain."

And if one day full of facing our heartbreak and pouring tears wasn't enough, we had another one the very next day -- our last full day of classes. This time our focus was on saying goodbyes & hellos and opening up to each other about the people, places, even pets, that we are having such a hard time saying goodbye to. Our trainers gave us TONS of advice on how to say our goodbyes well, because healthy goodbyes are part of a gift that we're giving to those we are going to say hello to, so that each person gets as much from us as the last. We have to let people know what residence they have taken up in our hearts, as well as admit that it hurts. But we can't forget about our "I can't wait to go!" attitude, in being firm in what God has called us to.

Our last day was our goodbyes and a time of "praying around the world" -- praying specifically for each missionary that is going out into the field from our training class. And the list is amazing; they are going out to Mexico, South Sudan, Ecuador, Thailand, Honduras (not just us, another couple too!), China, Nigeria, Swaziland, the Middle East, Kenya, Albania, Japan, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Niger, Malaysia, and Central Asia. Our trainers then did our commissioning, and gave us an incredible example of how to say our first "good goodbyes". As in African tradition, one of our senior trainers, who is South African, led everyone in walking each group that left out of the building, following them all the way down the driveway, and waving them goodbye until they couldn't see us any more. (It was so incredibly precious, and obviously made Lesley cry.)

And with that, we had to say one of the hardest goodbyes we've had to do in a while, just because of how unique it was. We had not had a close community of people around us in a long time, since all we've done over the last year is move around and travel. We also had never had to say a goodbye to people dear to us that we may, quite literally, never see again. But it hurts because we loved well. 

Please be praying for us as we are about to say the really, really hard goodbyes -- goodbyes to home and to family. Please be praying that we would do these really well, even when that means relishing it how much it hurts. Next step is Honduras! Next step is a brand new kind of life.

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