A Decade Later

A decade ago I stopped living in Africa.  I left the community that blessed me.  I left the community that sometimes made me a little nuts.  A decade ago my life changed direction without prior notification.

I knew this anniversary was coming, but I thought I might escape “knowing” what had happened each day as the anniversaries unfolded themselves.  The anniversary of my friend and colleague’s death.  The remembrance of sitting in the dorm with the girls I mentored as we mourned and questioned and thought Dave’s death was more than we wanted to handle but as much as we could.  Other publicized and unpublicized tragedies a month and more earlier smacked me around till I wanted to shout, “Uncle!”

This death was more than enough tragedy for three months. It had to be the end for a while.  We need a respite.  I needed a respite.

I was wrong.

Waking up to the phone ringing and distant gunfire helped me realize more tragedy was jumping into my life.  Lockdowns, bullet proof vests, consolidation of living arrangements, electric cuts, shelling, dyed hair–for the kids not me, a funeral, hiding under beds and tables, tracer bullets,  and cross-fire all combined to tell the part of my brain that was clued in life couldn’t remain the same.  The rest of my brain wasn’t willing to acknowledge that yet.

I had students to teach, class activities to plan, a killer lesson on the Revolutionary War and what we were going through to lead with my amazing student teacher.  There were papers to grade.  There were little boys at an orphanage in town to comfort, tease, and teach.  I still needed to pay my maid for the last month.

It didn’t matter.  Reality kicked in as we drove off campus.  It would never be the same.  I would never be the same.

The lessons would go untaught and unlearned–at least in room 6.  Other lessons in other places needed learning.  Different memories could be made.  I could learn and grow in ways I never dreamed.

A decade later my soul still remembers this week before my mind clues in.  A decade later I can see the good grown from some of the tragedy.  A decade later I have the ministry I’d longed and prayed for years before this crisis enveloped my adopted country.

A decade later I no longer identify myself as an evacuee.  I no longer yearn for this story to be one of the first I want you to hear about me.  A decade later I know people are woven into the fabric of my heart even more securely than any of the places.  A decade later I grieve the diaspora and celebrate our connectedness.

A decade later I still speak the words, “God gives the grace we need when we need it and not before.”

What have you learned in the last decade?

 

photo courtesy of Kirsty Hall and edited at pixlr

 

 

 

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7 Responses to “A Decade Later”

  1. TirzahSeptember 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    I have learned to love a remarkable woman named Sheryl and been blessed by her friendship as God took me on paths I never chose and others better than expected. It still feels like yesterday we put the grout in your kitchen tiles! You are a blessing to me! Hope to see you soon!

  2. LanaSeptember 26, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Friend, I am always blessed when you choose to share, my heart is not the same because of the ways you have shared life with me. Thank you for sharing it all, not just the warm-fuzzy happy moments, the depth of your soul comes through when you share on your deep of deeps. I love you. I pray for you every year around this time. I continue to see healing and life spring up out of something the enemy intended only for bad in your life. Victory continues to occur because of your choice to give Jesus glory and trust Him completely.

  3. judySeptember 26, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    It is about the people not the places!! You are one of the people I still miss dreadfully. Hugs!

  4. Jenny KuipersSeptember 27, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    Goodbyes are important. Unsaid goodbyes still ache at times. Friends are important. Stuff is not. Life goes on. Australia is a good place to raise a family. Lots more but some is harder to articulate. Tears still come sometimes. God is still good!

  5. SherylSeptember 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    Tirzah – there are a lot of blessings to be identified on this side of evacuation. You and your friendship are high on the list! Time does fly! It doesn’t feel like 10 years . . . but there’s no denying it.

    Lana – any choice but trusting Jesus seems pretty futile. Thanks for going deep! I’m so looking forward to November with you!

    Judy – Isn’t that what makes TCKs–people not places? More and more I feel like a TCA. Hmmmmm . . . I miss you, too. It has been far too long. I love the way when we do get together, there’s not a gap. There might be details to fill in, but there’s no awkwardness.

    Jenny – those unsaid good-byes are killers. Keep preaching it! It’s so much easier to accumulate stuff than friends, isn’t it? I think the tears will always come; just not always in torrents. The loss was great–and there’s no replacement. You don’t replace people, you just add them to your heart and somehow it expands. God is always good–no matter what. Love and miss you!

  6. RuthSeptember 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    I have learned much in the last 10 years. I’ve learned that God always takes care of His people.

    I’ve learned to live without the presence of my Mom, who is celebrating with the family of God in heaven.

    As Sheryl was still in Africa it was evident that the only choice we had was to trust God. We know it was only God’s grace that brought her home safely.

    I have walked the cancer trail for the last 8 years and know my life is in His hands. Chemos come and go but God’s mercy endures forever. My cancers are not cureable but with God I can keep going and know I have only to rest in Him.

    A year ago I was in the hospital for 6 weeks with multple problems. I almost went home to live with my Lord, but He healed me enough to go home and keep improving.

    After I was home about 6 weeks I started a project at church that continues to the present time. It is a wonderful opportunity for the senior citizens to get to know about a dozen children from the church.

    We just celebrated our 50th Anniversary on a vacation with our family. Yes God is good… ALL THE TIME!

  7. CherylOctober 4, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    I have learned how incredibly hard it is to be a mom.
    I have learned that living in the city and living in the country are both wonderful and hard. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
    I have learned about loving a boy named Eric who will soon be 11.
    I have learned that life does go on even when your dad dies and you feel like you’ve lost a limb.
    I have learned lots more… but it seems like there is still so much to learn.
    Thanks for provoking this line of thought.

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