Together & Saying Good-bye

Posted on July 25, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

It has been a joy to have our daughter, Lori, son-in-law, Chip, and grandchildren, Sam, Mia and Gloria with us for their last two weeks stateside before returning to their assignment in Central Asia. It was a bittersweet time of enjoying conversation, sharing fun times and assisting in shopping for final needs, knowing we would probably not be seeing them for three years.

Our son, Russell and his family joined us for several days. If we had had any question about why we built such a large house, it became moot as six adults occupied the bedrooms, three granddaughters slept in my office and the three grandsons the attic den; the two dogs that came along were everywhere. In fact, the number of relatives seemed to multiply as the laughter and squeals reverberated throughout the house, and children’s feet pounded up and down the stairs.

The cousins commandeered my “man cave” to escape the extreme heat outside and adult supervision downstairs, improvising games and watching videos. However, I wasn’t above enticing the oldest grandson, Zach, to earn a little money by helping Papa do some yard work.

Our most visionary meal-planning proved to be inadequate entailing frequent forays to the grocery store. Emails in my inbox accumulated and all other tasks had to be set aside as breakfast clean-up flowed into lunch preparation and the washer and dryer seemed never to stop.

We fell in bed exhausted each night, but exhilarated to have quality time with loved ones that we see so seldom. As the days moved toward departure our sense of impending emptiness was balanced by Chip and Lori’s excitement to get back to their calling overseas.

I found myself reflecting on our missionary furloughs and how we probably did not appreciate the feelings of our parents. They were supportive, and we always looked forward to returning to the U.S. every three or four years. But this is not where we belonged. After a few months of seeing family, going to ballgames, enjoying the extravagant materialism of America, we were ready to get back.

Our families could not understand our children asking, “When are we going home?” Our parents considered them home, at last, in Mississippi, but home to them was Indonesia. Our own grandchildren, ages 6, 7 and 9, talk fondly of getting back to Central Asia, seeing their friends and their dog and eating more familiar food. How grateful we are that they are devoted to planting their lives among a people far away in order for them to know Jesus. How selfish to cling to them for our own joy and gratification. We are the ones who nurtured them to be obedient to God’s call, and we are thankful He has chosen them to plant the gospel among unreached peoples.

So, after days of sorting through clothes and collecting supplies of amenities not available in their country, a mountain of luggage is packed and ready for transport to the airport. It is hard to imagine how much the children will change and grow over the next three or four years. We might be able to manage a visit sometime during their term of service, but meanwhile, we are thankful for Skype and pray that their internet connection will be strong and secure.

3 Comments on “Together & Saying Good-bye”

  1. Carra

    Praying for all of you. Thank you for letting me be included in your family so graciously thru the years. Praying especially for Chip & Lori & family. You are all so special .
    Love in Christ

  2. Bettie Rose Addleton

    Brings back memories of our own comings and goings!

  3. Sandy & Duane Hammackl

    Hey Bobbye and Jerry,
    Thanks for sharing your time with us last week. We LOVE your new home, so perfect! It was amazing getting hugs and sharing in brief but deep conversation and prayer! I thought of you all day on Friday as you said your “See you later’s” to Chip and Lori and kids! I prayed for you peace in the midst of what I am sure was mixed emotions of excitement and grief. Been there, done that! 🙂 Next time I want coffee on the front porch!! I’d like to reserve the “blue room”. 🙂 Love to you both! Thanks for your prayers! Blessings to you! See you in August.

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