I've done it more than I would like to and know that there is stilll more to come. Saying Goodbye. With my travels and work, I meet people, work with them for a while and then have to leave. We say, "Goodbye. I hope to see you again... maybe... sometime." The truth is that I don't know if I'll ever see them again. I went through this same process with the JC team last week. For the next two months, I will be living in an Ivorian home and at the end of that time, I'll say goodbye to this family as well. Only to move on and repeat the process. More adventures and new places and people. More goodbyes.
To leave here in Cote d'Ivoire is a long process. You go to everyone you know and spend time with them, share a meal, or just sit and talk. Eventually, you "ask for the road." You explain why you must leave and answer any questions. When will you return? What will you do? Will you get a wife? How will God use you? After everyones questions have been satisfied, they will "give you the road, but only part of the road." This subtle distinction carries a world of significance and import. The thought is that if they give you all of the road you will never return, but with only part you will certainly be able to find your way back to them.
It can be hard to leave people, to say goodbye. Especially if those people have had an impact in your life, as most people worth saying goodbye to have.I have friends who refuse to say the words, "Good-bye." Ever. I don't like goodbyes. They are hard and filled with awkward spaces where words should go but never seem to fit. But I think that maybe the Ivorians have something in their way of saying goodbye. Something that seems to making leaving not so permanent.As I travel the road, meeting different people and allowing them to speak into my life, if I only take part of the road, perhaps I'll find my way back to them again.