Like a revolving door, I hear these words on many fronts in my life as we find ourselves traveling back and forth between Burundi and the U.S. Each location has meaningful relationships, ongoing commitments and purposeful work. It’s a privilege and a necessity for us at this time, and quite surprisingly, a way of life I’m “getting use to”. The challenge, of course, is to be present in the moment whenever and wherever that may be.
In the past few months we’ve crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice (four times for Randy). Between us, we’ve visited ten to fifteen different places in the U.S. (not all of them together). We’ve had doctor and dentist appointments, updates with supporters, meetings with potential future team members. We attended the Global Health Missions Conference, taken care of family business, reunited with our adult children for the Christmas holidays and even enjoyed a white Christmas in Seattle.
On the return to Burundi we diverged in England for another conference with team leaders of our organization. Yes, it was a busy time with a lot packed into it and amazingly, all flights, but one, were on time, no luggage was lost, we were healthy the whole time (even with the “wrong” flu shot this year).
What made it all a joy was the heartfelt “welcome back” we received in every home, city, church and place we stayed. Though we’ve been living abroad for six years now (four in Burundi) we continue to experience the deep care, support and friendship of those we so often must say good-bye to. And although our daily lives no longer evolve around the same activities, events and familiar places we continue to share, grow and learn, albeit in separate places. So when we do meet up again our moments are filled with deep sharing, joy-filled laughter and recounting our stories from our different places and life experiences. For those present moments the time we’ve been away gets compressed into shortness, swallowed up by the greater depth of connecting in the trust of relationship.
I find this happens in both worlds I live in. There is a trust that’s built in relationships over time, over experiences, over comings and goings. Modern technology facilitates us in so many ways to stay connected with people on either side of the globe. But it’s being willing to open my heart to trust that actually connects us to one another. To trust the other person truly is “for me”, for my well-being, and I am “for them”, that’s what draws us together in the moments of presence. When I return to Burundi I sense this trust building in the relationships we have with those we work with, those who work for us and those we are growing in relationship with through church and ministry. It’s the unspoken: “Your came back! You care! You’re here now! How wonderful is that?”.
To all of you who welcomed us back on either side where we live our lives–thank you for the welcome, for honoring us with your presence and care, trusting us in relationship and letting us be a part of your lives whenever we are there.