11 days from today I will board a plane and leave this place. Gabon has been our home for nearly 5 years. When we came fresh from language school in the French Alps we were abruptly thrust into a new way of living. The learning curve was high and we often felt completely overwhelmed and out-muscled. My new life went ninja-like on me and my leg was more than swept! (mixed metaphors I know) However, little by little, this new place became the new normal. We home schooled our kids with a couple of embassy and missionary families, we learned to drive Kamikaze-style, we reset our expectations of what one could do in a certain amount of time, we sweat buckets in the sweltering humid heat, we stumbled our way through speaking french with twisted tongues and hazy understanding. We placed our kiddos in boarding school a country away. We started a mission aviation program for the Bongolo Hospital, from scratch, with no previous experience to guide us. We were stretched. And when I say stretched I mean being torturously stretched out and knotted again and again by some kind of mental ancient medieval menace. It was like becoming a huge and hopelessly tangled chain of humanity. To say it was stressful would be a rip-roaring hilarious understatement.
Yet we made this place our home. This place has sheltered us from many storms. The kind of storms that bluster and blow, drumming down torrential rain, flashing lightning with blinding brilliance and booming out thunder that reverberate a wall of sound straight through the human skeletal system. This place has seen celebrations of first and last meetings, laughter has bounced off the walls and tears have been wept. Friendships have blossomed with glorious vibrance and, sadly, some have withered away. We are not the same people we were when we first first walked through the front door.
So now we leave for a time. Soon we will be in Cameroon to watch our oldest son graduate from high school. Then we will fly across the Atlantic to prepare our son for university. He and our daughter need drivers licenses and other necessities. Then we will leave our oldest behind and fly back across the Atlantic to Cameroon to become dorm parents and for Steve to enter into a management internship with missionary aviation group, SIL. A new adventure, not for the faint of heart! We will spend next year living and learning a whole new curve of life.
So as I pack up in Gabon I am remembering God's faithfulness every single step, tear, stumble, fall, failure and success. In the beginning I didn't think I'd survive. In my puny weakness I called out to God and in the quiet places within and beyond the quake of struggle, He answered and strengthened. He delighted to make me new, to make me beautiful.
So now that there is some sense of belonging and normalcy we will plunge head-long into another crucible of change. When I tremble before the new and unknown I am reminded that we go not alone!
This song is like a virus I catch every time change is in the works, ever since junior high! It drums out it's melody and hovers in the background of my psychie, thank you oh so much David Bowie...
"Cha cha cha cha changes... turn and face the strain... cha cha changes... I watch the ripples change their size but never leave the stream of warm impermanence so the days float through my eyes but still the days seem the same..."