Saturday, May 13, 2017

Leaving day

The clouds, still sleepy, are lying low in the valley and the moon is high. We slowly walk round the house, stopping in each room to say goodbye. There is a rush of bags, coats and last things and then we are standing outside in the cool clear morning, waiting. Reuben is very excited about going on the bus and skips around us. It comes. We get on. We go. So simple.

At our small airport we hang about with a group of loyal friends who have come to say goodbye. We discuss the journey, our upcoming holiday, how late to leave it before we go to the bathroom, whether the fog will lift and the weight of the luggage. We take photos. Inside we brace for the parting and when it comes, it is there and gone and then so are we. The small plane's engine drowns out the sound of my crying and in the blur I see our friends waving and Duncan's colleagues all lined up along the tarmac. As we flash by they walk forward, their hands in the air in farewell. Then there is sky and the views below take the rest of my breath.  For a moment I am numb, stuck in sorrow, and then I breathe. Rosa starts wriggling and the rest of the journey is spent wrestling the little ones and trying to help them settle. The day goes by in the throes of travel and then, almost as if by magic, we are in Cairns and I can see the horizon from the window. Our valley walls are down and in all the openness I am finally and quite suddenly overwhelmed by the day. 

So there it is. PNG is once again across the sea. We are facing in another direction and for all those who have encouraged us, there are those who don't understand too. That stings. We so wanted to finish well but we have realised it isn't entirely in our control. We are sorry for that and for pain caused, for things left unsaid and expectations left faltering. It is the same for us. Thank goodness for God, His grace and HIS control over this whole crazy wonderful experience.

For a moment I am numb, stuck in sorrow, and then I breathe. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Thursday, May 4, 2017


saw them! For the first time I really saw them! Walking home a group of small parrots flew out of a tree and I actually saw them. (Forgive the repetition, but I'm so excited!) Usually they are a frustrating blur and then they are gone. They hide in the trees chattering away and even if I stand for ages they evade my view. But today they almost seemed to pause and turn their wings so that the sun caught them in all their glorious technicolor and I truly SAW them. After they had gone I paused to soak in what had just happened and to enjoy the sun on the valley. How beautiful it is here and so full of life to be witnessed in unexpected bursts of motion. 

The beauty is not just in the view though. It's all about people for me. This extrovert has loved living in community. It is true that I have felt culturally isolated and misunderstood at times but those moments are massively outnumbered by deep connections and day to day togetherness. Losing friends and being lost is no fun. I have seen the colour of their wings and they have seen mine. I will not forget friendships that have sprouted from washing up liquid (dish soap), shared experience, proximity and coincidence. There are things that no one else can ever understand. The blend of life that we share is unique. But it is also characterised by constant parting and now it is my turn to go.

The goodbyes have begun in earnest and my heart feels raw. I want to stay. And I want to go. I want to be whole but I shall ever be in pieces. But God is constant and gracious. He is truly beautiful and He has given me more than I could have thought of asking for. 

I shall not forget the parrots. Or the people. Or the broken beauty of this place and this life. Perhaps it will weave into new opportunities to glimpse colourful wings. I truly hope so.