Monday, 13 June 2016

Home and Family and Saying Goodbye

Well…this is it. I'm leaving Uganda tomorrow. For the last week and a half my body and mind have been slowly getting used to the fact that I am going back to Canada on June 14 for quite a few months. I started feeling sad, and I told my mind to suck it up and stop. So I stopped feeling sad a week ago and started feeling numb. It's not that I wasn't ever going to be sad about leaving, but I didn't want the sadness to start too soon because I know how my mind works, and I didn't want to have to deal with the circles of sadness that my mind will spin on until I was actually ready for it.

And then last night's fellowship group happened.

As is pretty normal when people leave that group to go to various places, they prayed for me. But my walls came down when I was asked the question, "Is there anything you would like to say before we pray for you?" I thought about the fact that this group has become my family here - a strange hodgepodge little family (definitely seeing the Kingdom of God in them and just how funny the Body of Christ looks at times). Then I thought about the fact that H and S and M and I have made our own little strange family too, and that's when I started feeling. And you know what? It hurts. I hurt. My heart hurt when they were praying for me, especially when my fiancee was praying for me. But at the same time, I know we are still connected wherever I go. That's the wonderful thing about being a part of the Body of Christ. I am not alone wherever I go because we are bound by the same Spirit who is ministering to all of our hearts.

I had hoped that I would be able to stave off the tears and heartache until I had at least reached Amsterdam, but unfortunately this is not the case. As I write this now, I am choking back tears. During fellowship last night I was having an argument with God. 

Me: Can You just let me be numb for three more days? That's all I'm asking. I don't think I can deal with 'feeling' right now. I just need to be distant and numb.
God: Holly - you came here to share your heart with people. And that's what you have done. You need to feel the impact they've had on you. You need to let yourself feel.

I do think it can get more normal to say goodbye to people, but I don't really think it gets any easier - that is of course, unless you harden your heart towards people the more you say goodbye.

I have grown up in a wonderful church whose heart is open to receiving and releasing people. And let me tell you, there have been some very key people over the course of my lifetime who I have had to stand with in prayer and release to go onto more of what God has called them to. And it SUCKS! It sucks every time, at least from a human point of view. You share your life and your heart with people, and some of them are gone within a very short amount of time. And sometimes, regardless of how much you'll say you will stay in touch, you lose contact with these people. But it doesn't mean they are gone from your mind and your heart.

This week I have missed a very important goodbye on the other side of the world, and I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that family. The Horman family has been a huge part of my life for the better part of almost 15 years. They came to my church from Australia, then started teaching at the school I went to, then pastored my church through some very challenging times. I respect them so much, especially for being so faithful to our church community even with personal struggle in their own family and extended family life. I love and cherish and respect them so much, and am so sad that I wasn't able to be at their final church service to be able to say goodbye. But I know that they know that they are loved and appreciated by our church, and that God will be with them to guide them and comfort their hearts as they leave the home they've known for so many years. Thank you so much for serving with the heart of Jesus in all ways. I love you guys so much and will miss you more than words can say.

And so, for me as well, I will be saying goodbye to Uganda tomorrow night, and to people I love so dearly. But I know that we are still connected, though separated by oceans. God has connected us and He will continue to direct and protect us in all we do. I have to learn to grieve the family I'm leaving behind while at the same time being reunited with my family in Canada. My heart is split between two continents, but I also have found that there is something so fulfilling about knowing you have loved and been loved. You end up leaving with more inside of you than when you first arrived. And as much as my heart breaks, there is something beautiful in that pain.

Oh Uganda

Oh Uganda
Land of red dirt and blazing suns
Of open hearts and belly laughs
Of gritted perseverance and joy through all
My heart is glad and grieving
Oh Uganda
Your hospitality invited me in
A total stranger now surrounded by family
You made me one of your own
My heart is glad and grieving
Oh Uganda
Hope rises from the bellies
Of those who have no food or house
Spills out onto the streets in a triumphant shout
My heart is glad and grieving
And yet
God is working all things
Working all things out
All things are being renewed
I am being renewed
- here
My heart is glad and grieving.

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