A Happy-Sad Goodbye

Unfortunately, we’re used to saying goodbye to co-workers and friends.  We’ve been saying goodbye to people since before we left for Mexico.  It’s a repetitious theme for missionaries.  I guess we’ve learned that through experience.

One would think that missionaries would mainly say goodbye to friends and family when they leave for the mission field (a slight misnomer since the world is our mission field, not just a place overseas).  We expected that.

What we discovered after arriving on the mission field is that missionaries are constantly on the move.  God is working in different ways, in different places, in different lives.  We’re not called to a place but to serve a Person…and He may tell us to go Mexico today and to another country tomorrow.

Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.  The apostle Paul, without airplanes, automobiles, buses, trains, motorized ships, motorcycles and scooters, bicycles, Segways, travel agents and even a mission board, ministered in more countries than I ever have and perhaps ever may in my lifetime.  Saying goodbye in the world of missions is not a new thing.

So, last Thursday, we said goodbye to Tim, Michelle, Kathryn, Samuel, Bethany, and Jenna O’Brien.  It wasn’t as difficult as some goodbyes.  It was not a hurried affair.  They’re not leaving for 2 months yet.  However, those are 2 busy months for all of us and last Thursday was the best time to give them a “despedida.”  We were glad that two families were able to come from further away than just our immediate team to join us in the formal goodbye event.

We managed to get a few pictures.  I think we were all having so much fun giving our “sad goodbyes” that we didn’t think to take a large group photo or even a family pic.  Nonetheless, we enjoyed a spacious meal from their favorite local Chinese restaurant, a delicious tres leches cake, and some fun and we hope meaningful gifts for all of them.

We’ll miss you, O’Briens, and we know the Lord has a new and fresh step for you before a new set of goodbyes somewhere down the road.  It’s inevitable.  We all take comfort in knowing that as family in God’s family, we never really say goodbye.  We’ve got far more timeless together in our future!

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2 Responses to A Happy-Sad Goodbye

  1. krislivo1 says:

    You hit it right on the head about having “far more time together in the future”! Seems there’s been a rash of posts from missionary parents apologizing to their children for the life they are giving them. The central theme is that by choosing missions they force their children to say good bye to friends and family. The whole idea never sat right with me. And this is why! We don’t REALLY say goodbye, do we?
    Great pictures – glad it was a fun despedida!

    Like

    • alanbeth says:

      Thank-you for the excellent observation. I totally agree. I think another issue at-hand has to do with clinical depression. I know that sounds like an off-the-wall addition to the comment. However, missionaries go through a lot of difficult things. Some of those things just about break us emotionally. In some cases, they do break us emotionally. I think, at least in some cases, that missionaries who feel as you’ve pointed out, could very well be speaking from a perspective influenced by depression. If I’m hitting this one on the head too, then I would say that a depressed emotional state will cause parents to feel that since being a missionary has caused them to feel negatively about their life (in at least some aspect), that they’re coloring that outlook for their children and thinking that their children too are suffering from their decision to be a missionary. Another response from such a depressed state might be to overemphasize the amount of fulfillment they sense or think that their children must have in order to overcome this feeling of inadequate life-experience for their children. This sometimes results in an overcompensation by making sure their children experience everything they possibly can to make up for the “negatives” of being children of missionaries. I could be off-base, but I’m trying to piece this together from personal observation and thoughts on the topic. I’m not a psychologist or even a psychic but that’s my 2 cents…maybe 3 cents…worth (or -less).

      Like

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