Graduation rehearsal was yesterday and it was nothing short of thrilling seeing the excitement each student had at the anticipation of receiving their diplomas. I felt a bit torn as I watched. It is amazing to me that we have been here only ten months I love these folks so much it feels like I must have known them longer. Living on campus for us has been an amazing gift from God. We get to live right next to men, women and children who are more like family then neighbors. Each afternoon around 2 I head out to enjoy coffee with the ladies knowing when the boys wake up from nap they will walk across campus to find me. They will walk past lots of people that know them well and will look after them as they wander…they know folks by name and feel at home.
J– is often out problem solving electronics or chatting a few tukuls down and the kids have a huge area to roam and play where they are safe and loved. PJ came home today after two hours away covered in henna from her time with Rebekah, and a few minutes later Flower-girl pranced in the door telling me tales of a baby dog. W-man appeared an hour later after playing fill the bottle with dirt with his buddy Melut.
Today I was over watching cookie baking, helping Tabitha sew a dress and drinking coffee at Julia’s…I was trying to live and love the today but it was hard because I knew that in just one week they will all be gone they will graduate and return to their various homes and tomorrow will be so different.
Today I was reflecting upon the unknowns…sometimes I try and fill them imagining what next year holds, how our days will look in just a few weeks, imagining what is to come and then I stopped. One year ago we had no idea this year held for us Melut, that we would be here in this place for all the grief and joy this year held. We could have never imagined it was possible to love so deeply in just a few months time. I don’t know what lies around the next journey for us…in just two weeks I don’t know who our kids will play with or where I will enjoy coffee but the God who gave us deep friendships in Washington, California, Oregon, and Colorado, in Nairobi, and in Melut does and I am trying to soak in today and allow him to hold tomorrow.
Today PJ sat on my bed and cried, she cried because she knows Sunday, See-Sarah, Rebekah, Pricilla, Merr and Grace are all going home. She cried as she showed me the henna on her arm and talked about corn roasting, clothes washing and laughter. She doesn’t have much language but has figured out how to love and be loved without it…and it makes goodbyes so hard. We cried together…I thought we were getting better at goodbyes but come to find out they are still just as hard as ever.
Today I reminded her that she had loved well. I am glad I am sad and happy all in one breath this graduation because it means we loved and were loved well and I cannot help but think the gifts of love are far outweigh the sacrifice of having pieces of your heart spread across South Sudan. Next week we celebrate achievement, success and transition at graduation, next week we will shed tears of happiness and joy. This week we will soak up all the todays we have left we will cry and we will whoop with excitement, we will give thanks, we will host coffee we will love deeply we will say goodbye well and then we will pray God will open our arms wide to the next chapter whatever it holds. But tonight as the sun slips behind the horizon I will love today and cry with PJ as we say goodbye to friends that have quickly become so dear and hope that God will faithfully do tomorrow what he has done in the past, fill the broken pieces with whatever tomorrow brings, but as heart wrenching as goodbyes are I am happy it is hard to say goodbye, we have been given the gift of loving and being loved well in this season.