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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Not quite Heaven yet . . .

Tomorrow we load our truck with a half dozen trunks and a few duffels, to drive to Kenya one last time (when we go for Luke's graduation in July we will fly or take the bus).  So this week we've been sifting and sorting, a bittersweet process of trying to extract a carload of sentimental and practical treasures from the accumulated bulk of 17 years of living.  School papers and legos and cake pans and pottery; photos and music and a few meaningful gifts and a guitar.  It is hard work, so many decisions, so much clutter.  And only a small percentage of the work which is still to come.  

In the meantime I only went to the hospital two of the last four days, and found I enjoyed the time more for its limitation.  Our boys have been working around the yard and eating lunch here daily, so it's a dozen for that meal most of the time.  A couple of afternoons I've been able to visit neighbors.  So the tedious material focus of packing has been balanced a bit by the relational treasures of time with others.  I'm thankful for that, too.  In the wake of the Sudan team's visit we entered this week, our first one of really turning our sights towards closure, well prayed-for.

It is easy to idealize our history at the moment of wrapping it up . . but not too easy, since difficulties still crop up, like a stolen bike, the sense that people are kind of watching and waiting to take what they can.  In debriefing some cross-cultural frustrations with team mates this week, I found myself as I have often before wanting to apologize or justify the hard parts of peoples' behaviour here.  The Johnsons in particular are just such great people I want to protect them from the thieves and the manipulators, the liars and the abusively dependent, as well as the just plain hard truths of poverty that surround us.  Travis' response has echoed in my mind:  Jennifer, we didn't come here because it was already heaven.  Amen.  If this was not a broken place, then we wouldn't all be here.  

So we pull out of this not-quite-Heaven-yet place tomorrow, never and easy task, planning ahead on school fees and worker salaries and dog food and cow plans and all the details that have to be anticipated when leaving.  The entire World Harvest Mission will gather in Greece, one week for the leaders and then a second week when we're all together.  We're flying in and out of Nairobi, partly to take this load of "moving", and partly to accompany Caleb on the way back so he doesn't land at 3 in the morning alone (Luke and Caleb join us for the latter part of the time).  In the midst of packing we can lose sight of why we're going . . but hope that the fellowship of the retreat will be a closer taste of Heaven than we've had in a long time.   

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