The goodbyes have begun. It never gets easier, even though after ten years we know what to expect. By this weekend we’ll be in Manila fighting jet lag, while our senses adjust once again to the heat, humidity, smells and noise. Our brains will slowly begin shifting back to functioning in Tagalog, and remembering all of the subtle social cues of Philippine culture that make communication and relationships work so much better. The sadness of goodbyes to family and dear friends will begin to dull as it collides with the excitement of hellos to friends in the Philippines who are like family, and as we settle back into the familiarity of our home there. For now though, there are a million little details that cannot be forgotten as we pack up the house we’ve lived in for 11 months, finalize travel and visa arrangements, and spend those last sweet hours with people we won’t see again for years.
The transience of it all makes heaven so much more real, and each major transition stirs a deeper longing for our eternal home with no more goodbyes and no more moves. It also brings a poignant reminder of why we do this over and over: How many millions of people live their lives without the hope that we have? Is it not worth our lives to share the hope we’ve been given with those who otherwise will never hear of the hope there is in Christ?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
In the midst of goodbyes and tears, there is also an excitement and anticipation of the ministry that lies in front of us; new responsibilities that will stretch and grow us in new ways, but always with the same purpose: To bring hope to the hopeless, and to see thriving churches in every people group!