Who am I?

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Monrovia, Liberia
I live in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa with my wife and youngest son. We are recently arrived in Liberia where we are serving as missionaries with Evangelical Church Missions working under the Liberia Evangelical Mission. For most of the last thirty years we have served under ECM in Bolivia, South America. We are the happy parents of four children and the proud grandparents of two grandchildren.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Transition Observed

Transition: Passage from one form, state, style or place to another. We are in transition. We have been in transition before but always with the thought that while we were transitioning out of Bolivia we would be coming back eventually. This time we know that we are transitioning out without any definite plan of returning. That makes it different. And it is interesting to watch what is happening in my own thinking and emotions now that we are just two weeks away from leaving.

Remember when you first fell in love with your wife or husband? All his/her quirks didn't bother you a bit. They may have been considered charming and appealing to you. That's how I have generally viewed Bolivia's quirks. But no longer. I find that the things that used to make me laugh and smile now irritate me. For example, people honking their horn at a stoplight while the light is still red. It used to make me laugh. Now it is really irritating that people cannot patiently wait for the RED light to turn GREEN. And, no, I am NOT going to run a red light to make you happy.

This weekend was our district annual conference. The discussion seemed to bog down at times over little things that had no real importance. Normally I would feel frustration at this but would at least remember that an important part of Bolivian culture is for everyone to speak that has something to say, even if it has already been said a million times before by the other people in the meeting. Yesterday I found in myself an interesting mixture of frustration and carelessness. (Get on with it! On the other hand I'm leaving and this is my last conference so no big deal.)

When my last seminary class ended I had no real feelings of regret, more of relief that that too is now finished and out of the way. 

I have enjoyed the goodbyes and savored the bittersweet feelings of saying goodbye while looking forward to the excitement of moving on to Liberia. There are still a few more goodbyes to say and I will have the same types of feelings but really will not feel regret at leaving. 

Emotionally I am already gone. I panic to think at how little time we have left to finish packing but am not stressed out over leaving. It's funny how the mind and emotions work to protect us from the negative side of transition. Not too long ago I would have said that it would break my heart to leave Bolivia but now I am ready, even anxious, to get it over with and move on.

If you have read this far then you are probably questioning how sane this missionary is or how dedicated he is to his ministry. I want to reassure you that I am of sound mind and am dedicated to the ministry that God has entrusted to me. But he has built into us a mechanism to enable us to make transitions without falling apart, to make transitions knowing that he goes before us in preparing the way.

I will miss Bolivia. I will miss the people that I love here. I will miss the ministry and will feel left out as I hear of new things happening in the church and mission. But I will also be enjoying the new door of ministry that God has opened for us in Liberia. So I say with a full heart, "Goodbye, Bolivia. It really has been good to know you. I will miss you and think about you and, hopefully, even visit. But hello, Liberia. Let's see what wecan do together for the kingdom of God in the years ahead."