I have 21 days to say goodbye
and I have no idea where to begin.
In just 3 weeks we will pack up our suitcases and board a plane that will take us to a place that used to be home. But now I don’t know what home is. Because if it’s where the heart is, then my home might just be right here in Cambodia. I am working day and night to pack up these suitcases but there is no way I will ever be able to fit my whole heart on that plane.
See, during this past year God has broken my heart over and over again. Each time it has brought me closer to Him and each time He has healed me and I have grown stronger from those broken hearts. This time, though, I’m not sure I can pick up the pieces. I’m not sure I even want to. Shards of my heat will be left all over this kingdom.
As I walk through the market one last time, picking up fruits and veggies, or choosing souvenirs to bring home in hopes to capture some sort of memory from here, I will not know how to say goodbye.
When our tuk tuk drives down the streets I’ll see the beggars and the children and wish I could do more, that I had done more. I pray that I have impacted these people even a fraction of the amount they have impacted me. They’ll never know how much they have changed my life, and yet their lives don’t look much different than they did a year ago from my perspective. I wish I had done more.
And the tuk tuk drivers. How do I say goodbye to them? They are probably the people I’ve seen more than anyone. What do I say when they ask me to stay, as they inevitably will, not understanding that the job is done and we must go? How do I thank them for taking such good care of my family and hugging, sometimes kissing, my kids almost daily? Will someone come to pay them the fare I have been paying them each week or will they not have enough money after we leave? And, oh, how do I say goodbye?
What do I say to the lady who stands outside one store I frequent that I have watched go from being not pregnant, to pregnant, to having a baby who she even tried to sell me for just thirty dollars? How do I leave and not worry that she will sell that precious little one to any willing stranger? A piece of my heart will undoubtedly remain with her, and I hope she knows it is so.
All of us will have a hard time saying goodbye to the boys at Punlok Thmey, or Hard Places. That’s the boys center where we go each week. My little one got really sick so we have been out a few weeks and I’m dreading going back because I know my heart will fall to pieces as they hug me and say they missed me and, when they find out we are leaving, beg us not to go. That one will be the hardest for sure. Those poor kids have to say goodbye too much, to too many people and it just isn’t fair. We will be giving them lots of presents and hope that makes it easier. On them. Only Jesus can make it easier on us.
There are the apartment guards who protect us but are also give a smiling welcome each time we come in the building, the cleaning ladies in the building who play with the boys, the church members, the staff at our favorite restaurants and stores, and I haven’t even mentioned the amazing IJM staff or expat friends yet. There will be parties to say goodbye to those last two.
When we return, people will ask us what Cambodia is like. I’m not sure what I will say. It’s hard to express in words. Even as I type this my tears are soaking my keyboard. I still have 21 days of goodbyes left to try and manage. I don't know what will come out of my mouth when I start talking about Cambodia. One thing I know: It is the place that will forever hold pieces of my broken heart.
But God is my healer, and He is my strength. Just as He has restored my heart over and over again this year and with it, made me stronger, He will do it again, and this time...
this new heart will be my strongest one yet.
Please pray for our family over these 21 days, and beyond.
We're gonna need it.