“Bye!” said Agnes as she practically jumped out of my arms to go to nursery at church yesterday. She waved her cute tiny hand with total confidence and pleasure, her body language saying “see ya Mama, I’m good”…and part of me wanted to bawl my head off right there in the high school hallway of our church as I walked alone back to my seat in the chapel area…but a bigger part of me let out a HUGE sigh of relief and contentment that my baby girl LOVES church!
We attend our “local” International church every Sunday morning with a whole mix of different people, and Agnes (and us too) has grown to love so many people from so many different places and cultures…Nigerians, Hungarians, Americans, Koreans, Chinese, and so many others…but one young lady has really lit up our little girl’s life…a precious pre-teen girl has been faithfully serving in the nursery and has been so good to our girl…this sweet young lady happily walks up and down the stairs with Agnes 50 million times each Sunday, just cause Agnes wants to…she holds Agnes and loves on her…this gem of girl has become someone Agnes loves and looks up to, and happily leaps out of Mama’s arms to go to…and this week we are saying goodbye to her…
A major part of living overseas on the mission field is saying goodbye…
We said goodbye to our families and friends in America when we made the move to Budapest. That was hard. It is still hard to say goodbye when we visit “home” and leave to come back home to Budapest.
What we have learned over the last 5+ years is that those first goodbyes with all our suitcases packed for the big move, were just the first of MANY MANY MORE goodbyes we would be saying….and that goodbye has become a regular part of this life that we lead.
At the end of our church service yesterday, missionary friends of ours were welcomed up front to be prayed out, it was their last service, and they are heading back to America for a time later this week. All the effort I had put into my make-up in the morning was in vain as tears leaked out of my eyes even though I was trying hard to suck them back in. We love this family, and we were just getting to know them and enjoy their company so much! Now they are leaving for awhile, and we are here with our hands waving “bye!“…During the last 5+ years we have had many moments like this…and at times we have even asked God “why Lord, should we just stop making good friends God?”
The answer is and has been clear to us “NO!”, we should NOT stop making great friends. This “goodbye” culture we live in is filled with treasure…while it hurts to say goodbye, that hurt means that we have been enriched by these people and our lives are better for it. We have made friends from all over the world. We have made friends from America, that have moved home. We have made Hungarian friends that live in Budapest. All of the people that have come in and out of our lives are treasures to us…and we are richer because of knowing them.
Being away from family can be hard during holidays and birthdays (hey, it can be hard on a regular Tuesday sometimes), but God has been faithful to give us friends that have become like family to celebrate life with. Some of those “family” members have moved away from Budapest and those “goodbyes” have been hard, but He is faithful and brings new people into our lives.
Yesterday as I was talking to my sweet friend who is leaving this week she said to me “we have always said we don’t lose friends when they move away or when we move away, we just keep getting more friends”, and I agreed with her and added “now we have friends all over the world that we can visit!”
While this “goodbye” business can be rough, I am so glad my daughter gets to learn it and grow up in this multi-cultural small world. I am so glad that she has friends of different skin colors, different nationalites, and cultures. I am glad she already has besties that live on other continents. I am glad that she is loved by such a variety of people and such a great number of people. I am glad that she will taste different things and learn different things as she grows up from the international crowd she hangs with. I am glad that when she starts talking she will most definitely know words in more than one language. Mostly I am glad that at the center of it all she will see that all of us love Jesus and that is why we love each other…and I am so glad that she happily says “bye mama!” as she skips off to Sunday school with all her friends!