I keep reminding myself that goodbyes are hard because we have allowed our hearts to fully invest in the people and places around us.
While many of us go and come, back and forth, from our passport countries to the Solomon Islands, these amazing employees are the glue that holds SITAG together. They are also our friends.
At 7:45 yesterday morning, the first of many people began to drop by the house to say goodbye.
Patson and Judy don't anticipate being at SITAG when we return. Their son, Nathan, called early from their home island to say goodbye to Benjamin.
I was surprised by how hard the goodbyes hit me. Sarah and Benjamin don't anticipate coming back to the Solomon Islands anytime soon, but I do.
We finally got to the airport, and I thought my heart was doing okay. Then Roxanne, my dear friend who is still in the village, found a signal and was able to give me a call. I stood in line at the airport and cried as she said goodbye.
Our SITAG family took a break in the middle of the work day to come to the airport and send us off well.
Oh, how we appreciate that the people we work among are also our friends.
And substitute family, too.
One last group photo, lots of hugs, then we walked through customs. When we finally exited the building and walked across the pavement to the airplane, we turned around and saw a SITAG family on top of the airport, waving for all they were worth.
My friend, Ann, keeps a wonderful blog, and one of my favorite features is "Marriage Monday". Healthy marriages are on my mind a lot lately, partially because I am watching marriages all around me (and in my own house) take hits left and right. We leave the country in about 24 hours, and then we will be on the road for four weeks as we gallivant around the world. Transition is stressful to any relationship, but especially marriage. I'm grateful for a loving husband who is committed to Jim and Sally Conway's list, Ten Traits of a Lasting Marriage:
1) A commitment to stay married and to keep their marriage as a high priority
2) Ability to communicate
3) Personal spiritual life
4) Resolving conflicts
5) Relationships with others/a circle of friends
6) Sexual intimacy
7) Sharing fun, leisure, and humor
8) Realistic expectations
9) Serving each other and sharing leadership
10) Growing personally
At Sarah's graduation this weekend, the amazing couple who have been serving the Solomon Islands for thirty-four years shared that they knew their recent trip across the Pacific Ocean hadn't been quite as stressful as earlier trips because they hadn't had a major fight! They give me hope that Jesus can continue to spark change and growth in our marriages.
We helped blow up balloons, but our creative director did all of the work. See that thing that looks like a big book with funny writing on it? It's actually hiding a box of hot-off-the-press Roviana Bibles. Complete Bibles. And we were getting ready to help surprise the sweet couple who has given the last thirty-years of their lives toward Bible translation in the Solomon Islands.
The stepped off the plane to rousing cheers and noise from our SITAG family on top of the airport. I just love that the Solomon Islands still lets us welcome people this way!
After a little bit of a wait to find the luggage, our friends emerged into the heat and humidity to find Sarah's beautiful flower necklaces quickly draped around their necks.
Then it was surprise time as our director steered them into a pavilion where folks from their language group were waiting. We listened to a hymn sung in Roviana, and then...the big reveal!
The big paper Bible was delicately cut open to show the box of Bibles that just arrived yesterday. The rest of the boxes are coming on a ship in a few weeks.
The new Bible made its way gently and reverently from hand to hand, then we closed with another song sung by sweet people smiling from ear to ear.
"The fellowship of the table has a festive quality. It is a constantly recurring reminder in the midst of our everyday work of God's resting after His work, of the Sabbath as the meaning and goal of the week and its toll. Our life is not only travail and labor, it is also refreshment and joy in the goodness of God. We labor, but God nourishes and sustains....Through our daily meals He is calling us to rejoice, to keep holiday in the midst of our working day."
I find myself longing for a little bit of normal routine, and the best way I know find restoration in the midst of chaos is to cook and put a hot, yummy meal on the table at the end of a busy day. Having a hubby who can quickly whack a whole chicken into eight beautiful pieces helps!
Chicken Country Captain
(adapted from the Better Homes and Garden cookbook)
2 1/2 to 3 pound broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 chopped green pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans (14 1/2 ounce) diced tomatoes
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Skin chicken, if desired. Rinse and pat dry. In a large skillet cook onion, green pepper, and garlic in butter till tender but not brown. Remove from heat. Stir in undrained tomatoes, raisins, curry powder, salt, nutmeg, sugar, and pepper. Bring to boiling.
Add chicken pieces to the skillet, turning to coat. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 35-45 minutes or till tender and no longer pink, turning chicken once. Serve over your favorite rice or pasta and enjoy gathering around the table with some of your favorite people while receiving God's gift of nourishment and His sustaining power.