At 2:30 in the morning last Friday, I received a surprise phone call from home…it was my mom delivering terrible news: my grandpa had passed away. We had known that he was sick and struggling for awhile; in fact, the doctors did not think he would last much longer after I left for Swazi. But slowly and surely my grandpa improved and lasted 7 weeks more than anyone thought. Nonetheless, death is hard to handle. The hardest part for me was that just a week earlier, my dad mentioned to me, “I think you might even see him again!” This was incredible news, especially since my grandfather is very dear to me, and it was so painful to leave him, knowing I would probably never see him again.
As my mom talked me through it over the phone, I of course started crying. She told me that my uncle offered to pay for my ticket home, but it was up to me if I wanted to leave or not. “Don’t make any decisions now,” she instructed. “Get some sleep and I will call you later and see what you think.” But I couldn’t sleep. I sat out in the living room with a box of kleenex and cried really hard. I cried because just a few days ago, I had written my grandpa a letter–a letter that was already on its way over to him…but was too late. I cried because my grandpa never wanted me to leave. He literally HATED that I was going to Swazi and he let me know. He asked me to stay. He grumbled at my grandma, asking her why she couldn’t convince me to stay. As I said a final good-bye to him before I left for Swazi, he mentioned to my aunt, “I wish we had rope and could tie her down so she wouldn’t leave.” And I cried because I had the opportunity to call him…but never did. I kept putting it off, thinking I had more time; I didn’t. As I sat there bawling, it just so happens that one of my housemates got up to go to the bathroom. She saw the light on and came to see who was out there. When she saw me, she sat down with me, listened to me, gave me a big hug, and then went to her room to retrieve a stuffed animal for me to hold on to as I slept that night.
So much pressure, so many thoughts. Should I come home or shouldn’t I? Should I be there for me family and leave my kids? Should I take the miserable and long plane ride there and back again? I talked it over with some of my housemates and spent some time in prayer. I never in a million years thought I would come home during my 9 month mission…but I knew I had to.
At first I felt guilty for leaving, as if I were weak and not “strong enough” to stay….and I felt like I was interrupting my mission work and my ministry by going home. But then I was reminded that mission work never stops, no matter where I am. My mission is to serve the Lord and that happens everywhere and anywhere, and my mission is also to love and serve my family. Though being home for a week was incredily WEIRD and under bad circumstances, it was the best decision I made.
I was able to say good-bye properly to my grandpa…my fan, my friend. I was able to spend time with my grandma, who never let me forget how thankful she was I came home for this. I was able to spend time with all sorts of family, to demonstrate my love for them, to share what’s been going on in Swazi, and most importantly, to share WHY I am serving in Swazi.
I had the pleasure and privelege of sharing a tribute to my grandpa at the funeral, a celebration of his life and a celebration of love. I posted it as a note on facebook if any of you are interested in reading more about him and what he taught me. The greatest lesson I learned this past week? Love never fails. Though my heart is aching and hurting to leave my loved ones once again, I am also eager to get back to my kids whose hearts ache and hurt to be loved…to have someone to call family.
Appreciate love. Cherish your family. And share with those who are without.