This blog entry is overdue and was written a while back but I just got the chance to post it!
The time has come and as of late we have been saying many good-byes. A few weeks ago we hosted a bbq (aka braii) at our place for about 25 of our friends and colleagues at the hospital. As most staff parties begin the atmosphere was a bit stiff but once Daryl served his amazing cooking (as always!) everyone began having a great time. We were presented with some lovely gifts and words of thanks. The pharmacy crew will be at such a disadvantage without him there, and the one Pharmacist left was quite upset to see him go.
We also hosted a good-bye meeting for our volunteers at the project. There was a dual purpose to the meeting: first to say our thanks and secondly to give them a pep talk for what the next season will look like as Nicole will be all alone in her efforts to maintain the project until August when the next group of missionaries arrive. We have certainly felt overwhelmed at times when it was just the two of us and are praying that the volunteers really step up to the plate and come along side Nicole so that she is not burdened by the work load. Just as we were able to give to each orphan a bible, Nicole and Tricia were able to buy enough for each volunteer as well and they were received with much appreciation and enthusiasm. They were the envy of their peers at church and it was exciting to see them carrying them and using them at choir conference and church.
The women volunteers were also hit with a major blessing. Throughout the last year I have been collecting clothing, shoes, products, and some random items from previous female volunteers and missionaries and ended up with a huge load. So Nicole and I sorted them and laid them all out in one of the project rooms and then had the volunteers pick a number. The numbers theychose determined the order they got to go in and the girls just kept on picking until there was not one item left. They each ended up with huge piles of goods and it was such a treat to see them wearing all of our unwanted pieces with such joy. Most of them I would think doubled their entire wardrobe from that one give away!
On our final Sunday at church we presented the congregation with 7 refurbished and fixed church benches as well as 10 brand new ones! We had commissioned one of the pastors of the church to make them and his workmanship was fantastic. The church received them with great joy and we were very glad to have been able to use some of our excess funds to bless the church in that capacity.
In our last couple of days two of the church elders came over to our house for tea and to come as representatives from the church to bid us farewell. We were very touched by some of the words that were spoken we give God the glory as it was evident that they were truly thankful for our service in the last year. We were presented with what were suppose to be ‘small’ gifts…two beautiful carved wood pieces that will help us to remember them (as if we could ever forget!). During the last few days we were also surprisingly presented gifts from individuals in the church as well, and we were quite blown away with peoples thoughtfulness and generosity.
We had a little going away party with our Afrikaans friends at a local Afrikaans restaurant. We were touched by all who came and will miss some of those friends dearly.
One of our final days in Rundu was spent taking some of our closest kids from the project (4 boys and 1 girl) out to lunch. I think the bond we made with these kids has impacted both us and them in significant ways. They were beginning to become quite sad at the thought of our going and the good-byes were some of the toughest. After our lunch we walked around the village and found many of the people that we have been working alongside and had a chance to pray for each one and say our final words of thanks. Daryl was also able to hand out some of his extra clothing and items to some of the boys and they were all super excited to have a piece to remember him by. By the end of the day we had a huge entourage walking behind us from hut to hut and many hugs and tears later we drove away.
Good-byes seem so much harder than they did a year ago leaving Canada as we are a lot more uncertain as to when, if ever, we will see these friends again. We are thankful for the few that we will be able to be in contact with through email and phone but most don’t have computers, let alone know how to use one so the goodbyes have more finality to them. Never easy.