Many Partings

The last week, and this one, are some of the hardest weeks of the year here in Ukarumpa.  These are the weeks of saying goodbye.

For graduating seniors, especially, this is likely one of the hardest transitions they’ll ever face. Not only are they leaving the small community they’ve always known as home and the friends they’ve spent the greater part of their childhoods with – they are saying goodbye with the keen awareness that these are people and places they may well never see again on this side of eternity.

Lomalinda, the missionary center Amanda grew up in, no longer exists (it suddenly shut down before she had a real chance to say goodbye), and her closest friends are thousands of miles apart.  It’s a common MK story.

So every weekday since graduation, a small crowd has gathered on the dirt airstrip just outside of town to watch and wave as friends trickle out, going all over the world.

takeoff

Standing there with my students this past week reminded me of the final chapter of Winnie the Pooh.  Everyone in the forest knows that Christopher Robin is about to leave, and no one really knows how to say goodbye:

“They all said ‘Hallo,’ and felt awkward and unhappy suddenly, because it was a sort of good-bye they were saying, and they didn’t want to think about it.  So they stood around, and waited for somebody else to speak, and they nudged each other, and said ‘Go on,’ and gradually Eeyore was nudged to the front, and the others crowded behind him…”

More than any other class I’ve taught in the past, I will miss these people dreadfully.  They were my first group of students when I arrived here three years ago.  They started the Smorgasbord with me and ate pancakes with us almost every Saturday morning.  The boys have been in my small group Bible study all this time, and I’ve watched the whole class learn and grow in leaps and bounds.  When I think of Ukarumpa, I picture these students more than I picture the place itself.

2015

I know they’ll thrive wherever they go, and I know they need to go in order to keep growing – but I can’t help wishing farewells like these didn’t have to happen.  And I can’t help longing for the day when all things are made new – when things like time and space aren’t the limitations they are now.

2 thoughts on “Many Partings

  1. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your heart for these students. You won’t forget them and trust me… they won’t forget Alan T. Love, Helen

  2. You are such an awesome writer, Son. Yes, indeed, when you invest your love and time into people, it is painful to let them go. Oh, how the heart aches!! A great teacher is never forgotten, and I am sure your investment into their lives, helping them to think, to mature and to establish deep roots of the faith, will only prove to help them “bloom where they are planted”. From a mom who knows, “parting is such sweet sorrow.” Love.

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