Going for a run in my neighborhood…biking to coffee shops…baking something rich and ooey gooey in a REAL oven…Texas sunsets and sunrises…AIR CONDITIONING!… straightening my hair…morning coffee while sharing stories with my family…snuggling Lucy our family dog…these are all things I am looking forward to doing soon.
Yet, I look back on the countless things I will miss in Thailand…the freshest, sweetest, most exotic fruit I have ever tasted..sleeping with the windows open…hearing the frogs and geckos chirp as I drift to sleep…waking to the sounds of the birds..Thai Coffee (sweetened condensed milk in everything)…evening walks with the kids through our “moobon” (neighborhood)…
But Nothing will compare to how I will miss my kiddos in Mae Sai.
I’m still not sure. In a way it seems unreal, another distant world. Yet, I am still in the thick of it. I can’t process it. I know it will take time…
A friend of mine, who is a new mother, posted that she couldn’t imagine life before her baby boy. I didn’t understand at first. I was perplexed by the statement. I dismissed it. Later that week, I said my final goodbye to the kids…
I understand a little better now what my friend meant. What was life like before these kids? They forever changed me.
Monika, the other house mother, said, “You don’t realize how much room our hearts have for love until God expands it.” My heart was expanded. I felt like the Grinch after his heart grew three sizes.
On my last night in Mae Sai, we had a sleepover movie night complete with popcorn, sour mentos, and cookies that we rigged up pancake style on a stovetop skillet since we don’t have an oven. Everyone piled in the living room with their pillows and blankets. I was still covered in grime and blue paint, my hands blistered from painting the older girls’ room earlier that day. How pathetic! I think I got more paint on myself than on the wall. Feeling dirty and smurf-like I desperately needed a shower.
Melody, who is seven, had been following me around everywhere. When I went to the kitchen to make dessert, she followed. She was glued to my side the whole night. After the movie, when the kids were all starting to doze off I went to my room to write a goodbye note to each of the kids before taking a much desired shower. Right as I sat down to write, in walks Melody. She didn’t want to go to bed. I told her to go lay down and I would follow in a few minutes. Reluctantly, she obeyed.
I finished writing the notes, and shuffled to the shower. I turned on the water and let it pour over me as I processed the day…the weeks. I scrubbed and scrubbed my skin, but the stubborn blue splatters resisted. Oh, well. I thought to myself, “Looking like a smurf with blistered hands was well worth the look on Mary and Abby’s faces when we surprised them by painting their bedroom.”
After showering, the exhaustion seeped in and spread across my body. I walked into the living room ready to sprawl on my mattress. Melody had beat me to it. Her spindly body splayed out on my mattress, fast asleep. The other kids were spread out all over the floor. I loved it. I snuggled in next to Melody and breathed in the remaining moments of my last night with the kids – precious gifts.
I whispered prayers of blessing over each of them. My heart was full of both joy and sorrow. I knew I was leaving a piece of my heart behind. How could I possibly leave them all? They became a part of me.
The next morning, Melody was her normal bouncy self on the ride to school…until we were a few minutes away. She became pensive and somber. At the time, I wasn’t really attuned to her sudden mood change. When we hopped out of the truck to say goodbye for the last time, she turned away and started walking towards school. I said her name, “Melody.” Immediately, she started bawling.
The entire time I was in Mae Sai, I had never seen her shed a tear. She is a tough little girl. This cry wasn’t just a sad sob. Her heart was breaking.
My heart wrenched. It welled up into my throat and then my eyes. Tears spilled down my cheeks uncontrollably. My heart physically hurt inside. The pain was real and almost unbearable. I had to keep the goodbye quick or else I would lose it completely. I hugged and kissed her. I told her I loved her. We parted ways.
This was by far the hardest goodbye I have ever made. It is still painful to think about.
My heart grows anxious inside leaving behind my Melody and all the other children. I want to scoop them in my arms and protect them.
What’s next? I don’t know. I don’t know what the Lord has in store. I’m still sorting through the summer weeks. But…I do know one thing for sure: God takes care of His children and He has all of “my” precious kids in His hands. He loves them more than I do. I can trust Him and that is enough to rest in for now.
I was reading in Acts when Paul stayed in cities for days, months, years at a time discipling, ministering to, and loving the people until the Lord called him to another place. Although I am no Paul, I could relate to a specific passage in Acts 20:32,38:
“‘And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified’…And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him…grieving that they would not see his face again.”
Goodbyes are hard, my darlings. But they are not forever and can never break the ties of love. I will love you forever and always, Mary, Abby, Sarah, Aliza, John, and little Melody.