The First Farewell

We have been talking about transition as a team for a long time. There have been so many new things taking place, new team members joining us on the field, new efforts or partners developing here in Arequipa…that there was never a way to talk about what was happening without describing how things were changing. Cafe, then no cafe. Moving offices. New libraries in schools. New employees for CUDA. New Christians in our group. New babies. New, new, new.

Our latest news has nothing to do with adding anything new, expanding or initiating but rather shrinking down, losing, watching some of our own move on to a new chapter. 

The McKinzies no longer live in Arequipa, Peru. The kids headed out with grandparents on December 28th, leaving Greg and Megan for 2 more weeks of quality time, closing up shop, and last memories. They finished uprooting themselves from over 6 years of life, love, friendships, and kingdom work and said goodbye. Many spoke words of blessing, affirmation and appreciation over them in those last weeks, punctuated by tears and long hugs. 

There is never a good moment to say it’s all done. There is no closure in the cultivation of life. You just have to let go and step back, knowing that growth continues but fighting the urge to stay close enough to ensure it. It goes against every instinct we’ve developed over the years in nurturing a faith community. I can’t imagine how hard that was or how hard it will be for us to follow suit. 

At the same time, I was proud. I watched as our young church stood up and declared them not lost or finished, but sent yet again, back to a “home” mission field. While we all know their absence is our loss, someone else gains their dedication, wisdom, and heart for the kingdom of Jesus. We choose to share them, knowing just how lucky their next group of friends will be. 

As Kyle and I drove them to the airport, it struck me that it felt like just another furlough, just another extended stateside trip. But it’s not. It’s the beginning of our end. Our turn is coming in early April, but already the need to start loosening my grip is clear, yet jarring. I don’t want to be on the outside. I don’t want to let go. It’s not about trust; I know those who remain are capable, faithful, willing, and committed. It’s about valuing the whole long path this community is on and wanting to continue walking alongside them indefinitely. It has been beautiful and I selfishly don’t want to walk away from it into something that might not be. 

This season of change is slowing. All the new team members are finding their sea legs and making their homes here. The McKinzies’ departure marked the first of more goodbyes before everything settles into what will now be normal. As surreal as it seems and even in the face of my desire to remain, if we learned anything over these years of adventure together, it’s that our God is worth following, into and back out of this foreign land that became home years ago. We walk with Him.