Sometimes we forget about the challenges of living over seas. The every day life stuff is hard, but you get used to doing things differently to live well. We get excited when we grow something in our garden or find something new at the supermarket. We deal with hand washing all our dishes, cooking all our meals from scratch, crazy drivers and bad roads, always being stared at, and the constant battle against bugs. We even adjust to the heat of dry season and the amount of dirt that’s everywhere.
But I’m not sure we can ever get used to the sadness of saying goodbye to loved ones. And that snaps us back to reality. Not only are we living so far away from our family, friends, and the comfort of our home culture, but we also live in a community with other missionaries who we have to say goodbye to as well. It’s a unique experience of living life together overseas that brings close relationships, and saying goodbye is hard. It turns out that while I knew it was hard to say goodbye to family and friends from our home culture, I was not prepared to say goodbye to people we’ve shared life with in a different culture.
I recently read this quote from the book, Third Culture Kids, and it’s so true: “An important thing to remember is that grief during transition is not a negation of the past. It is actually an affirmation of where we have been, geographically or relationally, because we do not grieve for things or people we don’t love.”
Facebook, Skype, and texting are great but they don’t give hugs or allow us to share experiences the same as in person. And when it feels like our life is surrounded with goodbyes from leaving our home culture and when people move away from here, it’s just hard.
This is one of our realities, and it’s a hard one. We know God is faithful, and we lean into Him daily. And we know that God has blessed us with one another and many others here, and we thank Him for that daily. But saying goodbye is hard… and it doesn’t get easier. Please pray for us through this.