Wednesday, April 29, 2009

7:30pm Buja Time, 1:30pm Fort Wayne Time

I’m in the terminal of Bujumbura airport, reflecting on the massive emotional hairball that was the last 2 hours.

Our friend Paulin arrived first, bringing greetings from his family. He is an amazing, promising, enterprising, faithful young man with whom Karri and I have had the great pleasure of spending time. We sat with him, reflecting on the end of term and his hopes for the next year. Next came Samuel and David, the twins from our youth group and worship team, and two of the most affectionate, dear young men I’ve had the pleasure of working with here. I tried to draw a map of the States and explain where Fort Wayne was. It’s always amusing to watch Burundians who have never considered the size of the US realize how large our country actually is. Plenty of tongue clucking and whistling ensues. I’ll demonstrate for you upon request.

Then came Brandon, my fellow spiritual traveler and one of my closest friends here. He corrected my poor Canadian geography, and we discussed the books we’re reading. Finally, Trina came with the truck. The guys sprang into action, ferrying our luggage from the living room to the vehicles. A light rain marked our departure, and it felt slightly fitting. En route, we discussed with Trina the emotional sand trap of making friends in a context like this. Everyone’s leaving. It becomes easy to guard your heart and stay closed off. If you’re reading this, Trina, I’m abundantly thankful that your heart opened for us.

We arrived at the airport simultaneously with Isaac, Michelle, and Meg. These three, who along with Tyler made our community complete, have become fast friends to Karri and I. Michelle, while only here a few short months with many more to come, has proven to be inspirational and steadfast, and a gift to us. Meg came a few weeks after us, and as I said to her in a tearful embrace, brought us more joy than anyone we met here in Burundi. Isaac, however, was with us on the plane from Brussels. He’s been there from the beginning. And if I didn’t say it there, I’ll say it now. You’re an unbelievable person, Isaac, and we love you immensely.

All those emotions, all those remembrances, all those embraces, then through the looking glass and into the world of international travel. Checked baggage – no problem. But we’ve got a guitar and a drum to carry on. We thought we could get away with it. But first the drum got vetoed. $150. Then the guitar got vetoed. We fought, we persuaded. Our friend Noe from Turame came to see us off and advocated on our behalf. A woman who came to my music classes and works at the airport, Mirelle, won top marks in my book for her efforts. To no avail. $150. … On the upside, we don’t have to carry the instruments around the airport. A few people who have just said emotional goodbyes aren’t in the best psychological state to handle arguing over international baggage restrictions in French. C’est la vie.

Boarding. Goodbye, Burundi. I think we’ll see each other again.

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