Leaving is the hardest part (Week 8)

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I’m writing to you from a car as I travel 6 hours from Târgu Mureş to Bucharest to spend a few days sightseeing. This morning was hard. We spent a little bit of time in fellowship together one last time before everyone went off — Alex to Greece, Marianna to Braşov, and the Mereus to Cluj and then Sweden later this week. We did a secret angel activity all last week, in which we found ways to bless our assigned teammate, culminating with a gift exchange this morning. And then they all surprised me with a sweet gift and card. We concluded with a sweet time of prayer and encouragement.

Gosh, leaving is the worst. Every time I get to this part of the travel cycle, I question. W

Why did I invest so much?

Why is it so hard to say goodbye?

Why do I keep repeating this cycle over and over?

You would think that with how much my heart hurts each time I leave a place, I would have nothing left to give.

Yet … I do.

Why? Well, over time, I’ve developed a few hypotheses. First, my love language is quality time with others. Meeting new people and establishing friendships is no small task for me. Secondly, my mom — an anthropologist — has passed on her love for investing in other cultures; in order to invest, you can’t really hold anything back. And finally, I have the travel bug. I will never be content to stay in one place. Even at the conference last week, Stefaan sensed that I am called to help people along in their journey (like a tugboat), but that I likely will not stay in one place as I do so.

One of my favorite and most comforting quotes is below.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. ((C.S. Lewis))

As much as I hate to say goodbye, it’s a sign of health. I think I should be more concerned if it didn’t hurt. And, frankly, it doesn’t get any easier the more times I do it. But I’ve learned to love the journey. My life is all the richer for each time I chose to put myself out there and love fearlessly.

Friends, I love Târgu Mureş. Romania is a beautiful country. The people in this region are caring and friendly. The lifestyle is easy. It’s been a wonderful reprieve. I’ve looked into all sorts of ways and reasons to stay (including crashing the trip to Sweden), but all along I knew this was only a temporary thing. Sooner or later, I have to come back to Harrisburg and face the messy life I abandoned.

However, I can tell you that I am in a great place right now.

I am free to slowly pursue my next job and not rush into something disastrous like I did two years ago.

I have confidence that the friendships I left behind are in a healthy place, and we can grow stronger now that I’ve healed a bit.

I am excited to resume ministry involvement.

I am eager to begin growing my business and exploring where that takes me.

Right now, I’m no more certain about my 5-year plan than I was in May, but my head is clear and my heart is at peace as I begin to seek guidance and discernment about what’s next.

.          .          .

Okay, one last update about my time at the base. As I mentioned earlier, we did a secret angel game all week. We spent the mornings cleaning and the afternoons finishing projects. I went into town a few times to visit new friends and buy souvenirs/thank you gifts. The days were long but the week was short. I enjoyed the memories and eating some of my favorite foods once more (I’m looking at you, şoarma 😉). And, as promised in an earlier post, here’s the finished mural!

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Also, enjoy some of these other photos that I haven’t yet shared.

FOOD

SIGHTS

PEOPLE

Coming up next week: I’m spending 3 days sightseeing in Bucharest. I plan to hop on the metro to some far point and then spend the day meandering back to my hostel. Oh, speaking of hostel, they have a pet cat! My heart is happy 🙂 Then Tuesday evening I’ll fly to Athens. I have a 19 hour layover, during which I’ll sleep in a hostel and sightsee before flying back to NJ Wednesday night. And then…that’s it! I might send one final update with travel photos and a re-entry update. I’ll be traveling locally throughout August, and then I hope to have a job by Labor Day.

Thanks for joining me on this journey!!

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