Today we left one of our “homes” to move on to another, the 88th time we have done so. As with most of those homes, the departure meant boarding public transportation, often a plane though in this case it was a bus. And, at most of these departure points, I notice something. Specifically, I notice the couples who are saying goodbye. One member of the couple is about to board a bus, a train or a plane, while the other is staying behind. Often these are young couples, but not always. I do not know the story behind each of these sweet partings, but we have heard many stories.
We have heard from people of their family members leaving their homes in Eastern Europe or the former Soviet Union for economic reasons. We have heard from people whose fathers moved to Russia, usually Moscow, staying away sometimes for years in order to make enough money to support the family. We have even heard of a couple who left their young children in the care of a brother and his wife so they could get jobs in Russia to support their family. As we hear these stories, it is difficult to judge and easy to have compassion on the people who have made this most painful of decisions in order to pursue economic support for their loved ones at great personal cost.
Of course, I do not know the story of everyone I see saying their farewells at the platform or as we enter passport control or the security line. Long distance relationships for young people can be character building and can build the basis for a stable marriage relationship long term. (Both of our children are in such long-distance relationships now and experience the heartache of having to say goodbye at the airport when one returns to their home.) And during my career with IVCF, I was often the one leaving my wife and family to board a plane for some days of separation in order to pursue my ministry calling. But this year, I remain grateful that, at each point of departure, I am not saying goodbye to my sweetie, my best friend, but I am traveling with her, leaving one “home”, one set of friends, with my partner in this ministry in order to embrace the next step in the adventure, a new “home” and a new set of friends and experiences. I am grateful for this treasured companionate faith journey with Lisa.
* No, we are not in our own home and will not be until November... We are now in Bulgaria... :)
Rich and Lisa Lamb