It’s late on a Saturday night and Ben and Elaine are fast asleep. Ben just returned from a marathon trip all over Ethiopia and is finally back here for our final 5 days in Awassa. 5 days. Just 5 days. Now that he’s back it all seems more real. The pictures are still on the walls and the house looks semi-normal…probably not a good thing as we draw this close to the finish line. I’ve been strangely calm about the packing and leaving process. It’s called denial.
But all of a sudden tonight I’m all emotional about closing this chapter of life. It’s been such a sweet season. Nostalgia is blocking all the bitter moments and just remembering the good. I’ll take it. So much has happened over these past 3 and a half years here. I look around this house and the memories are everywhere. There are the cracked walls in the nursery that Ben painted when we found out we were pregnant with Elaine. These are the tile floors where Elaine took her first steps and where I sweated out malaria. Our guest room, with it’s broken door, has housed dozens and dozens of friends and family members and complete strangers. We’ve shared hundreds of meals around this rickety dining table and celebrated birthdays and baby showers and holidays in this living room. I’ve spent hours upon hours in this kitchen, side by side with Lemlem cooking and cooking and cooking. This place was our oasis when we’d come back from long work trips across Ethiopia and need a hot(ish) shower and a clean bed. This was Elaine’s first home and where Ben and I fumbled through the first stages of parenthood. We moved here on our one year anniversary…and we’re leaving as a family of three. Things have changed.
But the truth of the matter is that I’m not heartbroken to be leaving this house. It’s just a building. I know that. But it’s this feeling of being completely uprooted that gives me this physical ache in my chest. I am going to miss this neighborhood and our dusty walks down these streets. I’m going to miss these friends that I’ve made despite all odds and have grown so close to. I’m going to miss our road trips across Ethiopia and our work with Water is Life. I’m going to miss this country so, so much. I’ve spent more of my life here than I have anywhere else and it strangely feels like I’m leaving home and going home at the same time.
I’m so thankful that we found something here that’s so hard to leave. It means we did something right…I think. God has been so good to us. Prayers would be appreciated as we navigate this goodbye process and prepare for all that is ahead.