So it’s been a little strange coming to terms with the fact that I am in my last few days living in Gonzanamá. Truly, I’ve been really happy here.
In the days after the decision to move was made, I had a lot of peace about it. When telling people here I was going to leave, I’d say “Me da mucha pena irme” (it’s a shame I’m leaving, I’m sad about having to go) and I wasn’t lying – but it was an intellectual sadness I felt, rather than the heart-deep sadness I got real twinges of today especially saying my goodbyes at the colegio.
I found I’ve had mood swings in a sense around this whole issue. At times I’ve felt excited and driven about all that El Sendero can be and the challenge and privilege of being a part of that; I’ve felt encouraged and enthusiastic about moving to Loja, finding a place to live, connecting more with people I’ve started to become friends with.
But in amongst all that I have had flashes of doubt. The other day I ran into A, an Ecuadorian with whom I have spoken to about ministry in Gonzanamá, and the needs there. Previously, we’d both agreed that Loja is saturated with missionaries and there needs to be more out in the province, in other places – and here I am moving out of Gonza (where there is a real need) and into Loja (where there are already a lot of people ministering). So when he asked me how I was, I preempted his response and pretty much answered him saying, “I know we’ve said there are too many missionaries in Loja but I’m moving here”. I still believe Loja is saturated and that Gonza is starved; but essentially the thing is I also believe there is a specific need at El Sendero and I can serve much more effectively there, and in Loja more generally, than I can where I am now.
That said, today I started reflecting more on how much I actually have settled into Gonza (although I have never been able to see myself here for life), how well I’ve been received all things considered, and what a real pity it is to leave the many relationships – many friendships in the making, if not friendships already – that God has knitted for me here. That makes me sad.
The problem is I have nowhere to take these friendships if I am not going to spend the rest of my life here. For me, the value is in being able to do life together, just love these people. If I “hang on” another four months, that’s really all I’ll be doing: hanging on. Some of them might take a significant turn, who knows. But I still am not okay with saying I am a missionary with people supporting me and I am here to be friends with people for a while and then go home. Maybe I’m a strongly task-oriented person, but I need to feel that I am doing something concrete that meets a real need and involves concrete tasks.
So that’s me this Friday night. Oops – Saturday morning already!
Two days left.