Monday, April 16, 2007

A Song of Goodbye

I grew up watching The Sound of Music. It was the movie my parents saw on the night Dad proposed to Mom. It is not only a classic movie, but a very important part of my family history.
Which completely validates my watching the movie about 7000 times. Before I was 12.
The “So-long! Farewell!” song that the Von Trapp children sing at their father’s party is cute, peppy and fun.

I sure wish all goodbyes were like that.

The first time I met Jay and Andrea, they were surveying Tanzania and Uganda with Mark Berryman. Kristi, Jeff’s sister, was a part of this intern/survey group as well.

We joined their survey team as they traveled in Western Uganda.

Our safari with them was an eventful one. I got sick. Our Suzuki broke down. We helped a somewhat tipsy European man whose car had rolled in the game park. We saw elephants.
All ten of us slept in a TINY little mud hut room smashed like sardines. And we laid eyes on Mbarara town and Ft Portal town for the first time.

That was 13 years ago. We have been blessed to serve with Jay and Andrea in Uganda for nearly 10 years. They, with a team in Mbarara...we, in Ft Portal.

Jeff and I being on the field without a team…provided me the opportunity of needing others more than I ever had before. Especially when I started having babies.

Andrea and I have had babies together. She was usually about 6 or 7 months ahead of me.
We didn’t have a lot of time together, but during the moments we spent, I asked questions and sought her advice. She is a woman who was right where I was in the baby-raising time.

Our families match. They have three boys and one girl. So do we. Which means our time with the Bakers is a win/win situation. Our boys have a ball and the girls can escape the “boy world” and hang with a female for a while.

I remember reading Dr Seuss books to Curt. I remember holding Hannah as a baby. I remember visiting Andrea after James was born. I remember watching Andrea walk laps around the American Club compound trying to start labor before Davis was born.

In these last years, I have treasured the moments when we have swapped Mommy-ing ideas and homeschool tips. The gift of being with a friend who is on the exact same trail as you is one I praise God for. It is a gift…that equips, enables and sustains us as women.

Shared experience.

When those who have been a part of our “experience” move on…

It leaves an empty space.

I remember sitting next to Andrea at a ladies retreat some years back. She was pregnant. We were in the gazebo at Rondo Retreat Center and we were singing “When the Night is Falling.” The moment was serene and divine. The picture of God singing over us as His children was powerful. I was crying. And Andrea was crying. Soft, silent tears.

Much like the ones I watched her shed all week at our recent trip to the coast.

Andrea is saying goodbye to Africa soon. And I am saying goodbye to Andrea.

Goodbyes resonate within me when I face them. Evoking emotions and empathy that go quite beyond words on a page.

God be with you, Jay and Andrea. It has been an honor and a gift to “share experience” with you here.

During these weeks of closure and goodbyes…may His be the song you hear.

“The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17


kristi w said...

Andrea always defined for me the essence of a truly Godly woman. She's blessed Uganda immensely, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing, Cheryl-

Sandi said...

This was a beautiful tribute to Andrea. May God bless them with good goodbyes and with a peaceful transition into this new season of life.

Randy & Kelly Vaughn said...

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to meet her at CBW. I did not realize how much your lives mirrored each others with your children. I know this must be a very hard goodbye to say. I love your words and thoughts about your realationship and I am confident these words are a blessing to Andrea as well.
much love,