Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bye House...

[what's brewing today: Americano, no room for cream]

The first tangible step towards our move to the mission field was taken today. All the boxes are packed, and my husband and I are headed to live with my parents until we actually fly out of the country. Every item that we own has been individually touched and categorized accordingly:

-Need for the 3 months before we leave, but not on the field
-Need for the next 3 months and on the field
-Need on the field but not now, and
-Store until we end up back in the US someday

Some decisions were clear, some were difficult, and some were surprisingly emotional. But what has truly brought the lump to my throat as I stand in the living room of our little house for the last time is the emptiness that seems to surround me. These walls, this hard wood floor, the one bedroom and one bathroom have all represented “home” for me. We spent our first Christmas together in this house – we watched the seasons come and go here; we prayed together and made significant decisions here. And now the rooms are empty and every footstep echoes.

“Honey, are you okay?” asks my husband. I’m not sure – am I okay? I thought I was excited for this time to finally come, for the months of anticipation to kick into reality. But suddenly I’m overwhelmed by the significance of this moment. We’re walking away from everything that we know to be “home.” I want to sit on the floor and just linger – I can’t seem to walk out the door. One more night – let’s stay just one more night and sleep on the floor. Logical? No, but it feels as if this would ease the turmoil within.

How do I, born and raised right here in Colorado, explain this feeling to someone like my husband who has lived his life as an MK? He has never lived in one house for longer than 2 years – packing up and moving is as sentimental as getting an oil change for him. He is understanding of my emotions, but tries to explain that this isn’t something to be overly emotional about. “You know that if we stay here tonight, we’ll just have to do this tomorrow, right?” Yes, I know. But it feels like it would make this anxiety go away.

Soon we found ourselves leaning against the car, looking at the empty house - the porch light illuminating the number 3324 that have represented home for so long. I know we need to go, but I also know that I can’t just drive off. After all, what kind of counselor would I be if I didn’t take this opportunity to enlighten my husband on the significance of closure?

So I ask, “Do you remember the first time you ever had to pack up and leave your house, before it became routine? Didn’t you ever have the desire to call out, ‘Bye house!’ as you pulled away? We say those things as innocent children, but it’s because we feel the desire to say goodbye to things that are important to us. We’ve spent our first year as a married couple in this house – every time we look back on this year we’ll think of this house. Couldn’t we take a few minutes to remember the special moments we’ve had here?” What followed was a precious time, and I was thoroughly reminded of the steps that led us to this very moment. It’s no wonder that God instructs his people to remember, to look back and recall the ways that he has provided and brought them to their present situation.

We stood there together, shivering just a bit in the cool night air, waving and saying, “Bye House!” And I kept waving until we had turned the corner and the porch light slowly disappeared behind the trees. Bye house.

28 comments:

GailAnn said...

Dear Coffeegirl,
You "hit the nail on the head" with this article. I look forward to sharing this journey with you. Many blessings!
GailAnn

nora said...

Thanks for a great post! I'm looking forward to reading your blog regularly.

Last night I sorted through my parents' Christmas decorations. They're moving to assisted living, I'm going back to the field.

As I unwrapped each ornament, I prayed often that my mother and father would come to know the Jesus that this stuff celebrated. I'm just glad that I get to do this - the sorting and the praying-while my parents are still with us.

Blessings on your journey!

@ngie said...

Coffeegirl - I like this term, "Bye house." It will be exciting to follow you on your adventure. Thanks for giving us a peak into your process.

Diana said...

Okay so I bawled for one half hour! I have been a missionary for 22 years. I have moved 18 times! So what was the bawling about? Maybe I just realized I never really say Bye House. I just pack up and move on! Or maybe it is cuz my babies will be saying Bye house in the next year or so! Thanks for sharing

Paula said...

CG,

This brought back wonderful memories of when my husband and I packed up our "first house" and left for the mission field. Thanks for sharing...and the reminder of special times.

sarah said...

I felt like I was reading what I would have wrote 5 years ago when we sold our condo to come on the field full time in Botswana. (We also lived with the in-laws!) I remember walking out the door and it hitting me. We've been home twice on furlough in the last four and a half years and every time we drive past our "first home" and smile. We smile because we know that in giving it up, the Lord blessed us even more with a bigger and beautiful home in Africa! He will bless you too.....stay faithful! I think I am really going to enjoy reading your posts....I have a serious love for coffee and I love hearing about other missionaries too! Bless you!! Sarah W

MF said...

Yes, I cried too. I distinctly remember saying bye to the first house we owned here on the field. We had lived there the longest ever in one place - all of 4 years. We had decided to sell it to move to another part of the country. My daddy had built our son a fort in the back. He was not liking the idea of not coming back to his fort. I went through every room saying goodbye. Four houses and several years later we are now in our own home for the last 10 years. I know there will be more tears when the day comes to say "bye house". Marla

CA RN to Honduras Missionary said...

Saying goodbye. Boy does it come in many different ways - bye home, bye Round Table Pizza, bye dear friends, bye family, bye "stuff"...and it doesn't stop on the mission field. Hello short term team! Oh...two years later it's goodbye to them as they move back and we stay on. It's bitter sweet, but it's what we have been called to do.

Roaming Writer said...

Good stuff. I have sentimental feelings for my little house in Kansas and get a knot in my stomach thinking about packing that container. Fortunately I am content with my things in Spain - right where God called us.

Phil and Pattie said...

As someone also married to an MK who did not have the same ties to a house or place, I can really relate to you. We also lived with my parents before heading to the field as well. I also knew my parents would be selling the house where I grew up while we were here the first time as well so I went through all the rooms videoing them and outside to say "bye" as well. Thank you for sharing your journey and I look forward to reading more...will also be praying for the transitions ahead for you. Pattie

Alan & Beth McManus said...

I'm with your husband, I guess. I'm an MK and third generation missionary who never lived in the same house longer than two years, and lived in 9 different countries (counting the U.S.) during her growing up years. We do our remembering by houses, "When we lived in the house by the barranco . . . our last house in Guatemala . . . when we lived in the motorhome . . ."

I don't know that I've ever said, "Goodbye house!" We packed up to come to the field for the first time as a couple when my children were 6 and 3. The three year old really struggled with the transition and I really struggled with impatience, until I finally realized that he needed me to be fully "there" for him during that time, also, that I hadn't given him enough time to really say goodbye. I finally put our oldest in a kinder while my husband took language school so that I could focus exclusively during the day on my youngest.

We explored the city together, making weekly visits/memories by going to McDonalds for an ice cream or buying orange juice on the street or getting a half kilo of tortillas and snacking on them while walking around. As soon as I focused on making positive memories for him, he calmed down about being here. It might not have been a big deal for me to pack up AGAIN, but this was really new to my little one.

stephanie garcia said...

I look forward to following your journey!

Stephanie in Chile

Libby said...

Yes, I did this too! My husband is also an mk and it has been different for him but we have both learned a lot from each other when we come to good-byes to family, friends, houses, places we love to hang out,etc.
It does help to let yourself say "bye". Then you can look back and smile like someone else mentioned. There were several places we lived in the same area when we were on deputation and when we are home on furlough we tend to pass them all at one time or another. A fun time to tell our kids about what we did there or who was a baby there. Memories!
Looking forward to reading this blog! Thanks for sharing!
Libby in Peru

Jeremiah & Geigy said...

My own DDH had his own "bye house" moment when we were in the process of selling our house. I never even thought it was difficult for him until he came home and share with me how he just broke down as he was up on the roof cleaning out the eves. All those leaves raked and piled for the kids to jump on....that was what did him in :) I'm glad for those "bye house" moments, they are markers. And also how wonderful to "touch lightly" the things of this world.

Thank you for sharing the journey with us.

Coffeegirl said...

It has made my month to hear from so many of you today. There is something so warming about realizing that other women not only know, but truly understand, the emotions that come along with change and transition. I appreciate the stories and reflections you've already shared and look forward to learning more from each of you as we share this journey together.

Dina said...

Wow...
Didn't expect to cry over leaving my home 61/2 years ago. Thanks coffeegirl.
Those were happy/sad moments but so glad I have those to tell about.
My heart goes out to all who are about to embark on this new journey in life, I know how difficult it can be for some but know that God is as faithful as he states in His word. "He who calls you is faithful and He will do it."
1 Thes 5:24 He was there for us in our most desperate times, packing up, arriving and the culture shock...but that is another awesome testimony for another time! :)
Blessing to you all who are now preparing to say "Goodbye home, family and friends". My heart and my prayers will go out on your behalf tonight!

Dina-Guatemala

ann said...

It's not the house you'll miss five years down the road. It's the rest of your family that are so far away, that can't be there to watch your little baby learn to roll over, or see the light in your daughter's eyes as she is learning to read, or be there to play silly games with your son, or be there to hug you when your husband is away and you are so lonely. Some people think "counting the cost" is giving up houses and careers, but I never was told how much I would ache for a grandma for my children. To God be the glory for what He brings us through.

Harooba said...

When we left our house for the first time we thought our young children would be ripped up about it. We invited them in to say 'bye house'. What they did was run around in circles in the empty rooms (with hardwood floors, too) and listen to the echo! That helped get our grief in perspective. Looking forward to reading more from you!

Kirsten said...

This blog is so reminiscent of my own story. In our family we also do the "bye house" thing with every place we live (which has been so, so many) and now it's kind of fun moving on in this adventure God has called us to. But that first time - it still makes my chin tremble a bit when I think of it. Many blessings to you as you embark on your fantastic adventure!

Dianna said...

My 16-year-old daughter just said "bye" to her MK school, which closed its doors and is moving 500 miles away. She attended from 2nd to 11th grades, and now she stays here to finish 12th grade by homeschool, while all of her school friends are leaving. I appreciate her mature attitude of recogning that God sometimes takes away good, even great things, but He never leaves or forsakes us.
Dianna in Brazil

Ellie said...

Thanks.
Just because we are MKs who grew up moving, does not mean we do not struggle with it. I am on my 27th move now in 35 years... it adds up. Yes, perhaps I do not have the long ties to a house as others, but I have ties to it. With every move, I make sure to take my time to say "bye house". It helps some.

Saying good bye to a place is so much harder when it is a special house - your first as a married couple or one where a child was born. My worst goodbye was saying good bye to a house where my first baby daughter died... to leave the only memories of her short life behind. I've found that not everyone will understand my desperate need to say good bye, to hold on, but that is ok. I take the time anyway. Moving is still painful, yes, even the 27th time. My grandma told me once, "hang on, little girl, you have a forever home coming one day." She also knew what it was like to move often as a MK. A place where there will be no more good-byes.
Ellie

Coffeegirl said...

Ellie, I really appreciate your comment because it's a reminder that no matter how frequent the goodbye's become, we don't have to become hardened to the emotions that come with them. We can choose to continue to say goodbye and give our special places the significance they're due. I like Marla's example of the tree fort - somehow a little boy leaving his special fort, built by grandpa at that, seems to convey the emotions wrapped up with all of this, doesn't it? From the array of comments, it seems that the key is allowing yourself to say goodbye, whether it's something as specific as a home or something as intangible as the possibility of having grandparents nearby or a familiar restaurant to grab a good ol' slice of pizza in. What is it that makes it so difficult to say our proper goodbyes over time? How do we keep our hearts engaged when goodbyes start to loom on both sides - our "home" where we originated from and our "home" on the field? Imagine, as Ellie's grandmother did, a forever home, a place where there will be no more goodbyes. And loved ones from all of our "homes" along the way will be there.

Diana said...

I so appreciate all your thoughts! I especially love the forever home thought! Somehow I think it will be even more sweet for those who have given up home and family to serve.
I think that having something in every room that has been in every house and goes to the next one is helpful too. For example the bathroom always has this footprints poem in a frame. The first time we moved with the kids, my son (9 at the time) said, "I can't go to the bathroom in there. There's nothing to read on the wall. What did you do with that pretty picture?" Needless to say I would never want to cause problems for him in the bathroom so the picture has been in every bathroom since! Humor aside, we do actually hang certain pictures, and knick knacks first in every house.

Coffeegirl said...

I love the idea of having something in each room that's been with you along the way - a small representation of the memories that made the place special. Or perhaps making small additions with each move to help remember the season of life was spent in the home being left behind? As we read over your comments, my husband chimed in with some thoughts. He reaffirmed as many of you did that it's not the physical house that is hard to leave; it's the memories within the place that make it special. Keepsakes that represent those memories seem like a wonderful way to carry the memories with you and ease the threat of leaving them behind.

mom2twoboys said...

For me, the hardest part is not leaving the houses but leaving the friends. I was not an MK, but we moved a lot when I was a kid, and my DH and I have moved quite a bit in 18 years of marriage, including internationally several times. Even leaving the first house we ever owned was not as bad as leaving the good friend I talked with on the phone every day, knowing that we would never keep in touch via email because she doesn't do that. Seeing how my boys' friends (and my boys) have changed so much when we go back to visit, and they have very little in common (their friends asking their parents, do J and Z still know how to speak English, or do they only speak Chinese?).

My mom has done a great job of long-distance grandparenting, and my boys are very close to her. But they do miss some friends, and the friends are what they always talk about when we talk about the US.

karen said...

So, I did all those things, almost exactly: the packing, the separating, the living with parents, and the leaving... but I never said goodbye to my house. Not even my house - a rental - but the home that me and my family knew. Two months later and I am really grieved there was no "bye house" for me, and I'm struggling to think that I could even have affection for the house I'm in now in that same way... Sigh... Glad there's a blog like this out there... if only to give me a good cry and then a good dose of God's grace.

highcountries said...

a fellow missionary friend just pointed me to your blog, i think i'm really going to enjoy reading along with you! my family and i just moved to Japan in february (our son was 10 months at the time) -- i loved our house (a rental our church owned, we lived there for just shy of two years), and leaving it was extremely difficult. it wasn't the place as much as the memories -- times i cried on the front porch, or meals i'd made, or people we'd had over, or the fear that struck my heart in our tiny bathroom when i found out i was pregnant, or bringing our son home for the first time, or his first steps, or the way the different seasons played out through our windows. man! i just couldn't believe that i would never live there again. i remember bawling when we were there, sitting on the floor in a completely empty house, eating sandwiches while we waited for the cleaning ladies to show up, so upset that i'd never wake up in the middle of the night and use that bathroom again! (my husband just couldn't relate..)

i think as women, we will have a special attachment to our homes, the places our families make memories and the places we nurture and hope to make welcoming for other people. saying goodbye to them should be difficult, closure is very important.

thanks for sharing your thoughts and providing a forum for so many to share experiences, as well! i can't believe i just wrote as much as i did. :)

Pat R said...

I've gone all the way back to this post and can't find one without comments. Can I still be on your blog roll?

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...