Having fellow missionary friends is such a wonderful blessing in my life. However, it has its drawbacks. Saying goodbye is never easy, and saying goodbye to friends moving across the globe is even harder. Just a few days ago, I had to bid farewell to my sweet friend Elizabeth Ewing. She and her family moved to Chile to begin their work alongside Jason and Lori Holt, church-planters in Santiago. Josh and Elizabeth’s daughter, Olivia and my Jo have a special connection. It’s so strange to me, but they just LIGHT UP when they see each other. It breaks my heart that these girls do not get to grow up together, but I know that they each will have their own friends and adventures like most kids will never have. I am so thankful for the work that Josh and Elizabeth plan to do in Chile, and I know the Lord will bless them for their faithfulness and willingness to answer His call to the foreign field.
In the next year, we will say goodbye to many more friends: Jim and Autumn Roberts to India, David and Katie Gardner to Peru, Scott and Melissa Newton to Spain, Phillip and Lori Bassham to Thailand, Paul’s brother Jake and his wife Stephanie back to China, and Paul’s sister Rebel and her husband Will to Japan. (Am I missing anyone? I am sad enough as it is!) Some of these we know we will not see for many years as our furloughs will not line up together. I am thankful that the world has become “smaller” and that there are many resources we can use to stay in contact and to stay in prayer for one another.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord! He takes our friends from our daily life, but He will give us blessed ministries and wonderful relationships we never would have made had we not trusted in His perfect plan!
Here is a wonderful blog about being a friend to missionaries: http://hollycpearson.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/a-sender-friend/ I encourage you to read it and try to be a friend to those in the ministry…even though it hurts.