Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Leaving Togo and Transitioning Home

Nursing Students

Decorating for Christmas at the nursing school
Making smores

Awa and her baby

Ruth Aku and her mom

The last few weeks of my time in Togo were very special and yet very difficult. I had to figure out how to say goodbye to the nursing students, the Togolese nurses and hospital staff, patients, fellow missionaries, and a culture and way of life I had come to love. Some special memories were: decorating the nursing school for Christmas and having a Christmas party afterwards, picking beans with the CHE (Community Health Evangelism) group, making smores in The Cuisine, having a Fulani women and her newborn baby stay in our home for a couple days, time spent with fellow missionaries and friends, and last clinical days with the students and translators. Little Ruth Aku and her mom came to the hospital the day before I left to say good bye to me. Angele traveled 3 hours over horrible roads to see me the last couple days I was in Togo. It was hard to leave, and I wasn't really ready when the time came. After spending 7 months in a place that you work hard to get to know people and be part of their lives, it is just simply hard to leave.
I rearranged my flight home a bit to stop in Zurich, Switzerland to visit a friend I had not seen in a long time.  It ended up being a nice transition time, to the cold weather, but also to the idea that I was not in Togo anymore and had to start preparing myself to return to the life as it was before I went to Togo.  I loved getting to see family and friends upon returning home and spending the holidays here.  What hit me hard was how out of touch I felt with everybody.  Others lives had changed or things happened that I knew nothing about.  It was and still is difficult to know what to say about Togo when asked general questions, especially questions that require me to summarize the entire 7 months into a sentence.  Because I extended my leave of absence from the hospital, I didn't return to my normal work schedule and there have been so many unknowns, so everything seems different, yet the same, yet so very very different.

I came across a quote from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis that seemed so very applicable to how it has felt coming back from Togo:
"When Peter, Edmund, Lucy, and Susan stepped out of the wardrobe, they were shocked to find out that no one seemed to know anything about the world from which they had just returned.  In Narnia, they had experienced the breathtaking beauty of the place and its citizens; they had discovered things about themselves they had not known before; they had conquered evil; they had known love on new and different levels; they had met friends that had challenged all of their normal ways of thinking.  They had been important people there.  They had completely become a part of that world.  So when they walked out of the wardrobe, they were shocked to find their changes were unapparent to everyone around them.  When to the children, the changes they saw in themselves were so great that they were now almost completely different people."

For me, it has just seemed like a slow process of transitioning from one culture to another and re-entering peoples lives here.  Because of planning for Nepal, there are times when I feel like Togo has kinda disappeared, or been forgotten about.  But, things in my heart and my life have been forever changed by my time in Togo and the people I met there and those things will never be forgotten!!!
And now I'm just a few weeks away from leaving for Nepal where I'll spend about 4 weeks.  It will be another challenge to step into that culture and peoples lives knowing that I have such a short time there, and at the end will have to return home again.  My prayer is that I embrace this opportunity and don't avoid opportunities in order to protect my heart from the pain and difficulties that come along with transitions and goodbyes.  The Lord offers us unconditional, abundant, sacrificial love, and it is only out of His love that I can love others.  I John 4:7 " . . .let us love one another, for love comes from God . . ."

1 comment:

Stacie@HobbitDoor said...

Such a beautiful post. Praying for your next adventure and your heart along the way.