Goodbyes are usually hard, although some of them more than others. Changes are a constant in our lives on the mission field and all of them bring with them losses and gains.
Change is on us again and we are once more saying goodbyes and some of them are really hard.
The first stage in our ministry plan is completed (woohoo!) and we have been sensing that in order to move forward with the next step of our ministry plan, it will be strategic for us to move to another town closer to the mountains. The second step of our ministry plan involves a completing survey investigation/research project among the Totonacan people group to investigate the penetration of the Gospel into the Totonacan communities and the discipleship process in the Totonacan churches. In order to really be able to carry out this survey project, we will have to make more frequent trips to the mountains to visit our Totonacan contacts in the various communities there.
In thinking about a strategic place for us to live, we chose a small town to the north of Puebla that is a hub for bus transportation for the mountain communities. This little town is also the home base of a small mission agency called LAMM. LAMM mobilizes Mexican missionaries to go overseas with agencies such as Pioneers, Wycliffe and Frontiers. Since LAMM has a partnership agreement with Pioneers, however, any Mexican missionaries that God might raise to join our project among the Totonacan people would be members of LAMM. This week we had a long conversation with the LAMM director and his coworker and we were able to discuss various ways that we could be of mutual benefit once we live in this little town.
As exciting as it is to be moving forward with our ministry plan, moving away from our cozy home on Totchli Street and away from Puebla implies saying goodbyes to some pretty amazing friendships that God has sent our way. It also means disconnecting a bit from our local church here in Puebla, although we will continue to work closely with them as we continue to develop a partnership to help them carry out their vision for reaching the Totonacan people.
We're still letting people know that we're moving and it's hard knowing how people like our small group family (and Gracia's best friend who is their daughter) will react. I was able to talk to one of my best friends here last week, Monica, about our impending move and afterwards I allowed myself a few days to really grieve over the loss of her friendship. We are really two peas in a pod and I have enjoyed Monica's friendship deeply.
What I dreaded the most, however, was telling our neighbors that we were leaving, especially our neighbors Liberal and Gloria. We have found a rare kind of friendship in this special family and they love our kids as if they were their own. And while we're not moving away from Mexico altogether and will be living less than an hour away, it still won't be the same as living three doors down from each other.
When we first moved here, I was tempted not to get to know the neighbors that well because I knew our stay here would be rather temporary. But instead of holding myself back and away, I willingly opened myself up to the new friendships anyway and I found out that just like I read here, the relationship is always worth the goodbye.
So yesterday I worked up my courage and told Gloria that we were moving. And I was right, she didn't take it very well and ended up sobbing on my shoulder for a few minutes as she tried to assimilate that news. Then we went to her house and she loved on me with coffee and cookies and we talked of our plans.
Once we decided to move a couple of weeks ago, things started happening really fast! Another missionary family here approached us with the idea of house-sitting for them during the months of June and July while they take a trip back stateside. Their house is roomy (with four full bathrooms!) and located on a large property with plenty of space for kids and dog to run and play. And taking care of their house will also give us the opportunity to move out of this house and turn it back over to the owners without the pressure of trying to pack while living here at the same time.
So by the end of July, we hope to have a house in a different town and be settling in there to focus on the survey investigation and new ministry opportunities. We plan to continue to visit Puebla from time to time, possibly weekly since Gracia would like to continue her dance classes. And we do look forward to continuing to build our relationship with our church here in Puebla as we partner together to reach the Totonacan people.
Exciting stuff, but in the meantime, the goodbyes rather stink.