A Lifetime of Goodbyes

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’ve been dealing with a lot of difficult things so far this year.

But there was one (very) bright spot in the middle of it all. My dad and my brother were able to come to the U.S. for my Lolo’s funeral, and stayed for three weeks.

My parents are missionaries to the Philippines, and I last said goodbye to my dad and brother a month before Little Man was born. So the opportunity for them to come back to the States meant that they got to meet my son for the first time.Little Man waiting at the airport to meet his grandpa and uncle for the first time.

It was such a blessing to have this time together as a family. Now that my sister and I live full-time in the States, it doesn’t happen very often.

Meeting Uncle Pierce for the first time.

I was nervous about how Little Man would respond to his uncle and grandpa at first, since in the past he’s needed time to warm up to new people.

Meeting my dad for the first time

I was surprised when he immediately let them hold him and started playing with them right away.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, Little Man has video chatted with them on Skype now and again, so maybe that little bit of familiarity helped.

Little Man wearing “Puppa’s” glasses

Little Man affectionately calls my dad “Puppa” since he can’t say “Grandpa” yet. And Puppa quickly became one of Little Man’s favorite people.

Having grown up as a missionary kid, I lived one side of the separation as a child. My parents first went to the Philippines when I was 4 months old. It wasn’t until I became a parent that I realized how difficult this must have been on my Dad’s parents (my mom’s parents were missionaries in the Philippines as well, but on a different island than we were on.) I was their first grandchild, and they only got a few short months with me. The next time they saw me, I was 2.

Photo by Frost on Flower Digital Photography

At that time, there was no internet, and long distance phone calls were expensive. So contact was much more limited then. It must have been like meeting a stranger when we came back.

Photo by Frost on Flower Digital Photography

Now I’m on the other side of the separation. Part of the family left behind in the “home” country, and knowing my son won’t know his grandparents as much as I’d like, at least for now.

Photo by Frost on Flower Digital Photography. Little Man with his uncle and his dad.

Thankfully, technology has made the world much smaller than it used to be. And now Little Man can see his grandparents live in a video chat despite the miles between them.

Photo by Frost on Flower Digital Photography

It makes saying goodbye a little bit easier.

Saying goodbye to Uncle Pierce at the airport

But just barely.

Giving Puppa a kiss goodbye

My whole life has been filled with difficult goodbyes. To family and friends in two countries. But now I say goodbye for me and for Little Man as well, which makes it even more poignant.

When God calls a person to missions, he calls their whole family. We all sacrifice in ways we wouldn’t otherwise choose. But I know that my parents’ doing God’s will is beneficial for our whole family. I hope Little Man learns that someday.

So while there are tears in missing loved ones, there is joy in the knowledge that God is good and that he works for the good of those who love Him. And that’s the legacy I hope to pass on like my parents passed it on to me.

Photo by Frost on Flower Digital Photography

And for now I’ll cherish these precious moments we’ve had together amidst a lifetime of goodbyes. They fill my heart, and my cup overflows.

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3 thoughts on “A Lifetime of Goodbyes

  1. Catherine says:

    Max Lucado. “No wonder they call Him Saviour”. (Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1986 Multnomah Press.)

    It seems that goodbye is a word all too prevalent in the Christian’s vocabulary. Missionaries know it too well. Those who send them know it too … Airports. Luggage. Embraces. Taillights. “Wave to Grandma”. Tears. Bus terminals. Ship docks. “Goodbye daddy”. Tight throats. Ticket counters. Misty eyes. “Write me”.

    Question: What kind of God would put people through such agony? What kind of God would give you families and then ask you to leave them? What kind of God would give you friends and then ask you to say “Goodbye”?

    Answer: A God who knows that deepest love is built not on passion and romance but on a common mission and sacrifice.

    Answer: A God who knows we are only pilgrims and that eternity is so close that any “Goodbye” is, in reality, a “see you tomorrow”.

    Answer: A God who did it himself

    Like

  2. Joanne says:

    It’s true, there is a lifetime of goodbye being missionaries. One thing that helped me was to see the other side… a lifetime of hellos.

    Like

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