Saturday, February 16, 2013

It Doesn't Seem Quite Right to Say Goodbye: Part 1

Feb 17, 2013 - Iloco Sur Trip: Day 11

8:13 am - Driving down this bumpy mountain once more. God-willing, this won't be the last time.

It's hard to describe what it feels like (not the bumpiness). Perhaps it's because it is a familiar yet new feeling at the same time.

I'm getting used to this business of saying, "I'll see you in heaven" -- it's more meaningful and less painful than, "Goodbye." Ever since I graduated (which was the first time I really had to bid a tearful farewell to close, life-long brothers and sisters in Christ), the time I've been able to spend with people has gotten progressively shorter: one year as a dean, 3.75 months at ARISE, and now 9 days at Concepcion Adventist Academy. Yet each time, I've found my heart inevitably bound up with the hearts of the people I've been with.

I think it's only God's love that can bind hearts in so short a time.

(By the way, it is now 9:02. We are down the mountain in one of the towns now. A group of students with CAA's singing group, "Angel Force," is accompanying us on a Jeepney as far as Candon. They have a singing appointment later. It has been much fun to see them on the road in the mountains and wave and take pictures of them.)

Even though this poignant experience is familiar in the sense of bidding farewell, something about this one sets it apart. This week, I believe I discovered, in a deeper way, this great truth: when seeking to be a blessing, you receive a double blessing. Ministering through music and preaching was a blessing in itself, but when you pair that with beautiful people who reach out to you in friendship and love and gratitude -- nothing else compares.

I wish I could have spent more time with them. I wish that we never had to say, "I'll see you later." But praise the Lord that "later" means Heaven, if not sooner.

When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!

9:32 am - Arrived in Candon (I think that's where we are). We are going to say a last farewell to the kids now.

10:25 am - Finally on the road again. I will miss them so much -- especially Ate Marlin, the principal and music director, and Judy-Ann, because I got to spend a bit more time with her as my roommate for a few of the nights. It's a wonder how a friendship can be built on mostly smiles. She also was kind of my "assistant" and proud of it. She and Raichel would always carry my violin and other things for me, and they loved to do it. They were all such a blessing to me, and to us. I only pray that the legacy we've left would glorify God and would be a lasting blessing. I pray they have seen Jesus. I feel like I was an imperfect vessel (still am), and that I could have done so many things better, but God is good and faithful and we have all been blessed. I have left this place a better person.

On a more technical note, I'm facing a small quandary. I deactivated my Facebook account months ago because I decided it took too much of my attention and time. But now it seems like it is the ONLY way to stay in touch with some people, namely, the students at CAA. Including Judy-Ann. They don't even use email. I wonder if I can sneak back on and not attract too much attention... I'll still have to decide on that one.

I think I'll post in two parts today. I still need to update on yesterday's happenings (it was a VERY full day, and a wonderful Sabbath). For now, I think I am going to rest because I got less than 5 hours of sleep last night.

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