Sunday, March 20, 2016

Gabon ~ there and back again...

Gabon of the glittering sea, sweltering heat, vibrant greens resplendent with ribbons of rivers flowing throughout. Gabon rich with dear national friends, brilliant teammates, innovations, and epic challenges. Gabon of life-changing events and heartbreak. Gabon of joy and affection. Gabon of change and transition. Gabon, there and back again.

It's been nearly three years since we've lived our everyday lives in Gabon. We spent a year here in Cameroon in 2013-2014 to be dorm parents at our kiddos amazing school. Then we went back to the states for our first and only year-long "home" assignment. And now we are back in Cameroon for Sam's senior year and Steve's assignment of managing the SIL aviation program here and our program there in Gabon, Aviation Medicale De Bongolo.

When we left Gabon in May of 2013 we thought we'd return as residents after two years. That has not happened. We have had a course change (pilot talk) and that new course has led us away from living our everyday in Gabon.

Our aviation program in Gabon has transitioned from being supported by Air Calvary to being supported by Missionary Air Group. Those changes have resulted in giving AMB a broader and stronger support base State-side. Our new program CEO Sean Donnelly met us in Gabon recently to check out our program there and meet national leaders and the mission team at Bongolo and see the aviation operation up close and in living color.

Going back to Gabon as a visitor is a very new experience. It is at once both achingly familiar and benignly remote. It's like coming home after going away for a long time and finding things to be the same but changed; all mixed together in a thick fragrant soup of clunky feelings and sharp rememberings.  

We had the honour of introducing Gabon to Sean. It was truly a time of reconnecting with dear friends and dreaming new dreams. We were able to be all together with Sean and our team in Bongolo and the national church leaders in the capital.

We got to connect with Libreville friends from OSPAC/RBC, the Pasteur President Victor and Vice President Samuel, as well as Hope House and Hands of Grace, and our beloved Bongolo team down country. It was a whirl-wind tour packed with many meetings and greetings. The in between times found Steve and Sean scheming and dreaming God-sized dreams for the country of Gabon through the lens of mission aviation.

We stayed as visitors at the guest house we once ran. Our home is now lived in by a sweet family who has been efficiently running the guest house since our departure in 2013. We left most of our
things behind thinking we'd be back. So some of our time was spent sorting and sifting through our stuff. Our stuff ranged from mundane household items to treasures of finding painfully sweet letters and hand-made Christmas decor lovingly made by our kiddos from a different time and place in our family.

It was another archaeological dig site of sifting carefully through layers of life debris to retrieve and save eight suitcases full of photos, mementos and family history to be weighted and packed ready for any returning visitors to kindly hand carry them back to the States where we hope to sometime be reunited again. Stuff that has gone from one continent to another and now (hopefully) back again.

There and back again...a Straw's tale.


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