I’ve experienced teammates and interns leave Cusco, and one conclusion I’ve made from watching each one go is, it must be painful because it looks painful. It begins with the task of packing, which is always complicated when it’s an international move. It ends with the dreaded goodbyes.
My family is returning to the States at the end of this year, and there’s already the ominous signs of our leaving. There’s boxes and packing supplies scattered throughout our living room. My work and focus is different. I’m no longer investing in just the church plant; that’s been left to many capable people. People look at and treat me differently. I’m starting to get surprise FaceBook messages from friends who want to say goodbye. Others get emotional during what would’ve been normal conversations. We’re all working, but we’re also waiting for that dreaded moment. It’s painful.
I’ve had more than one missionary tell me recently, “Reentry into the U.S. is more difficult than the culture shock you experienced on the mission field.” I’m not surprised. I already feel it whenever I go back on furlough to the States. I’ve got deep roots in Cusco, and we’ve had many happy years here. We’re very excited to return to the States because of the life and work that is waiting for us. But during these last few months I’ve been walking a little slower through some of Cusco’s parks; I’ve been indulging a little more in my favorite restaurants; I’ve dropped some tasks just so I can spend a little more time with friends; I’ve taken more trips on the city transit buses; I take spontaneous drives out to the Sacred Valley; I help out more of my neighbors in the condominium where we live; I even go into the open air markets more frequently. This was daily life for the last nine years, and the experiences are what make Cusco distinct.
My focus now is on leaving well.
- There’s unfinished work, which will never end. But I am spending some time with those I’ve tried to influence throughout the years. I’m praying for them, that they can glorify God better through their lives.
- Also, there’s the task of serving those who will stay in Cusco to finish the mission. God has blessed Cusco with a talented team of missionaries and Peruvian evangelists who will live and work in Cusco for many more years. My focus has been to serve them in any way that I can. The future of the church-plant is very bright.
- As I cope with the transition, I’m helping my wife and kids as well. It’s going to be a struggle for everyone. My kids have never lived in another home. Throughout their childhood, Cusco has always been called “home”.
- There’s the tedious task of packing. This will be looming over us for the next several weeks. Everything’s either going into boxes, will be sold, or will be given away.
- Finally, we are saying goodbye to favorite restaurants, favorite places, and good friends. The leaving is not abrupt, which in some ways is more painful. But we want to take the time to do it well.
I confess that in my weakness I struggle with how things will work out. But Philippians 1:6 challenges me:
And I’m sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
I can’t bring anything to completion. He who began a good work in the Cusco Mission, in the mission team, in my family, and in me, will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.