We have now seen over 200 patients in the Diabetes Program. We have had meetings with the Doctor which has helped us know where we need to steer the program and also has given us a bit more control of the program. We have a very successfully team meeting about ideas, thoughts and procedures. We are excited that Sarah Morgan will be joining us with education programs soon. I have started some new systems to help keep track of patients and follow up with care. We are excited about the progress we are having and are excited for the future. We would love to introduce some friends from the clinic in Hunter that have helped us, had good conversations with and always give us big smiles.
We bought our tickets this month.
While Meg has been ramping up emotionally for a while, I am postponing a lot of those feelings for nearer to our departure. But setting an official leave date was a significant moment. We will arrive in the US on January 12th, 2015. In just under five months, our family will leave home to return home.
I have a lot to work through—feelings that are at odds with what I think I’m supposed to think. Stuff related to my motives for coming to Peru in the first place, including my relationship with God, dreams, ambitions, and various factors of rather uneven spiritual value. Disappointments and lessons learned. Joys and sorrows. Just life, I guess, but it was life here. Anyway, my plan is to blog through these, hopefully regularly until our departure.
Right now, my primary thought is, “Sprint to the end.” I want to finish well. But it’s hard to know what that means. On one hand, it is remaining faithful in the everyday work despite feeling like mine is a contribution with an expiration date. My input becomes increasingly less relevant to long-term decisions. The window for unmet goals shrinks to a matter of months and feels impossible. The hope of correcting past failures withers. “Sprint to the end” in this sense is not the thought of the accomplished athlete finishing with discipline but of the guy who is still running the race after everyone else has already crossed the finish line, wondering what would be the point of the extra effort. On the other hand, it is doing well the things that this new phase requires. It’s time to do transition work again. So we’re starting on our RAFT, a device many expatriates have used to make a good exit and return. It entails:
- Reconciliation (in broken relationships and unresolved conflicts)
- Affirmation (of the people in our lives)
- Farewells (in timely and intentional ways)
- Thinking Destination (being realistic about life upon return)
This is a big part of our work now, and just coming to terms with that fact is really hard. But it’s time.
If you have been receiving our newsletter these past months you know that Team Arequipa is in the middle of transition. By the end of the year four new families will have arrived in Arequipa to join the work. By next summer two families will have left to return to the US and a short time later a third family will return to Australia. So, you see, change is in the air all around us.
We all know that change isn’t easy. We have a mix of families at the beginning, the middle, and the end of their time in Arequipa. People are going through the rigors of language and culture acquisition while others are selling off furniture and preparing for a move back to a (foreign) homeland. It is an interesting time for me, getting to watch new missionaries go through some of the same things that we did six years ago, helping them out where I can and letting them struggle through language deficiencies and cultural aggravations. At the same time I’m getting ready to watch the McKinzies leave the field in early January. We’ve been on a journey together for at least 10 years now, and we are about to part ways. Through it all I see God’s faithfulness to us, to all of us as a team, through long years of preparation and service.
I had a conversation the other day with a friend here, one of those hard-but-good conversations. As we talked over coffee about the work we’ve done together the last few years we lamented the mistakes (and man, have there been a lot of those), we celebrated the (often small) victories and we talked about the future. I listened while feelings were shared, sadness at the McKinzies’ upcoming departure and of ours to come not long after, sadness at the thought of missing us and our families, concern for the future of the church and NGO, and other things. I listened as stories were told of past missionaries coming and going and how the distance changes things. How promises of continued connection mean very little if not fulfilled through purposeful action. I left that conversation uplifted by a great friendship, saddened at the long road to good-bye still ahead of me, and in the end grateful for all God has done these six years in Arequipa.