15 June 2016

FAREWELL

"Express good wishes on parting" = fare plus well. We could say “Fare thee well!”

Oh my – how many farewells have we experienced in our life of ministry? Farewells from congregations we have been privileged to pastor, farewells from places and people we’ve ministered among in missions. Argentina, ICBI – providing training to pastors in Latin America, Pamplona, Getxo. Farewells from schools where I was a teacher, from the class where I learned some of the Basque language. Farewells from friends and neighbours in so many places. A card, a gift, a scroll, a dinner together, the last coffee, many hugs. Now – farewell from Majorca – from Centre Cristià. We have been here almost three years, but it really seems like we’ve always been here. That’s how we feel. That is how the folk here have made us feel – part of them – part of the family.

The time has come to say “Adios”. [‘Adiós’ = ‘to God’ or ‘God be with you’.] I don’t like to say “Adios”. I say “Hasta luego” – or “Hasta Pronto” “Fins Aviá”, “Gero arte” (the last two are Mallorcan and Basque) = ‘see you later’, ‘see you soon’. It is ‘agri-dulce’, I tell our friends. That means ‘sour/sweet – and it is a very emotional time for all of us.

You read about our ‘Farewell weekends’ in Pamplona and Getxo. Then Mallorca….. the first Sunday in May, a theater was rented for a morning service. Centre Cristià does this once or twice a year. All the congregation can meet together instead of in the three Sunday services, plus meetings in two other cities. Everyone comes from across the island – from the west coast, the north, and towns in the east.

A special speaker was with us for the weekend. It was also Mother’s Day in Spain. We were sitting at the front, enjoying the service. Everything was done with excellence – the singing, the children’s choir, the Word. Yes, we were sitting and enjoying. The pastor read Psalm 126. The musicians sang a Spanish hymn – “I will sow the precious seed.” Then the pastor’s wife brought a little girl to my side. She was carrying a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Hubby thought, “Oh, they must be honoring Lindy for Mother’s Day.” “You have to follow us,” said the pastor’s wife. We stood and walked up to the stage. There the pastor had wonderful words to say – his eyes filled with tears – thanking us for our time in Mallorca. Gifts were presented. Prayer was made for us. “Turn to face the screen. We have prepared a video for you!” As we stood, also with tears, we saw/heard our Spain Assemblies leader and his wife give words of gratitude and blessing, followed by the pastor of the church in Zaragoza, the pastor and wife from the church in Pamplona and a missionary couple – our Spain field coordinator. Oh my! There was a pause and there were our two daughters on the screen! – speaking in flawless Spanish, also thanking God for their mom and dad. What a time! What a morning! There was not a dry eye in that gathering. We knew nothing. We suspected nothing. We had no idea.

That was not the end of ‘farewelling’. The ‘Breakfast Girls’ prepared a beautiful dinner for me. We ‘girls’ – all from the neighborhood – would meet two or three times a year for a Saturday morning breakfast in one of our homes. This time there were 15 of us. What beautiful tables were spread – all with ‘finger foods’, but so attractively displayed, and what a good time we had with these special friends.

Folk invited us to eat with them. Leaders asked us to share at their Home Groups during the week. It seems that over the last month or two there were extra long hugs.

Then there was the last Sunday. “Let’s be in the three services. It is our last Sunday!” and we did. The pastor invited us to the platform for our ‘final words’ – final farewell.

But there was one more……. Monday night with a group of 100 leaders, out at the retreat center. “Have you even met  people with such a commitment, such a willing to serve, and with joy?” we asked each other. You should’ve seen how the cafeteria was decorated – balloons, wall display, cookies lovingly prepared and decorated for each one, a well-done caricature of us. The meal was unbelievable – cold cuts and potato salad, cream of mushroom soup, roasted potatoes on bed of red and green peppers and THEN the ‘asado’, grilling, bbq…… beef, chicken, lamb, followed by fruit salad and blueberry cheese cake. More hugs, more kisses, more blessings and best wishes, more photos taken. God’s family in Mallorca - wonderful people. How hard it is to ‘farewell’.

Pastor Daniel expressed: “We knew you would be here with us for a time and your time of departure would come, however the sadness we feel is very deep. We feel the Lord’s comfort and we thank him from the bottom of our hearts that we were able to enjoy being together these past three years. Thank you or your tremendous effort and support to us and the work of the Lord in Majorca. We pray for you and desire that the Lord will grant you times of refreshing and satisfaction in this new phase. You have a place here. The doors will always be open.

Our confidence and assurance is: Psalm 121

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!
 He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.
 The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
 The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.
 The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever. 

Have you read this Psalm recently in the King James Version? This is how I memorized it years ago. 

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.