Voices from the Field Kristi TenClay Get to know Kristi

At School Year’s End

Published on May 17, 2016
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Greetings from Cameroon!

I looked at my calendar a couple of weeks ago and realized how little is really left of this school year! By the time this letter is finished, checked by the international office, and mailed out, we will be entering our final month of school at Rain Forest International School. The weeks between now and graduation on the 9th of June will be filled with farewell dinners, many ‘last time’ moments for those moving on to new horizons in the coming year, and way more exams than anyone really wants to think about. Farewells are a huge part of life here. I suppose my years in a Junction City (a military town) before coming to Cameroon were preparation for the number of people we say goodbye to every year, but even that is but a shadow of what I see here. Statistically, I don’t know how many students and staff members we lose each year, but I can say we live in a constant state of transition. Even if you are not one of the people leaving, or if you are leaving with the intention of returning a year later, the goodbyes can be rough. People don’t always come back… even when they plan to.

NAB missionary retreat March 2016.

NAB missionary retreat March 2016.

I leave Cameroon in late June for about 8 months of ‘home assignment’ back in North America. What does that mean? Well, on a practical level it means I need to pack up all my possessions here, I need to decide what comes ‘home’ to the US with me, and I need to start making arrangements for various aspects of ‘normal’ life next year (for example, where I will live, my travel schedule, etc). Simple. Right? It would be if you could boil it all down to a checklist: pack A, sell or give away B, decide between C and D one part of your life and between E and F for another. Sometimes I wish life was that simple: a checklist, a chart looking at the pros and cons for each decision, a world made up actions and decisions that are all truly black and white, right and wrong. But, that isn’t how we work. For one, God gave us these things called ‘emotions’ that have their sticky little hands in pretty much every aspect of our lives. As a result, it isn’t just about packing up and sorting through possessions, it is also about our memories and our emotional attachments to people, places, situations, and ‘stuff.’

I am definitely looking forward to being home. Though it will be a busy time of trying to visit as many friends, families, and supporters as possible, it is also a time to reflect on God’s calling and hopefully a time of refreshment in preparation for the next season of ministry. Thus, I find myself once again in the midst of farewells. I keep coming back to what we say at my home church in Kansas – “there are no goodbyes in the kingdom, only ‘see ya later.’” There is great joy and comfort in knowing that even though life here on earth will continue to be a constant series of goodbyes and transitions, our hope and our home are eternal. But let’s be honest, it still doesn’t make it easy!

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