Bitter and Sweet

We tend to be fans of combinations.  We don’t like things to be completely one color, just one texture, or just one taste.  We put black with white, crunchy nuts in smooth peanut butter, salty and sweet.  Another combination we like is bittersweet. 
Today has a large hint of bittersweetness.  3 hours ago I went to the airport to see the family off.  That was bittersweet. 
Sweet because I think this will be a great time for them as a family. Sweet because it means I am close to leaving as well (but that in itself is bittersweet).  Sweet because the kids were all so excited to be flying to America. And it was sweet because I know that I am going to have adventures of my own still.
There is no mistaking the bitter after taste though. That family brought me in alongside them all summer; they made me a part of their family.  I was much more than just a teacher.  I am used to having Gabriel’s head peeking over the couch at me, snoring in the bed next to me or hearing him knocking on my door in the morning (depending on where we are living lol).  I am used to Ariel coming and sitting in bed with me in the morning and reluctantly letting me brush her hair for her.  I am used to hiding my stuffed camel from Abby because she thinks everything is her baby. 
I am used to watching Cindy and learning what it is to be a loving, humble wife and a dedicated selfless mother from her.  I am used to running errands with her in the afternoon when we share details about our lives.  I am used to making her laugh with my ridiculous slang, crazy American ways, and my overall Devraness. I am used to our inside jokes and how we just look at each other a certain way and start laughing. I am used to one or the other of us making tea for the other person most nights.  I am used to how we try to find small ways to bless each other. Her’s is a fellowship that I will greatly miss, and losing its constancy makes today as bitter as the last cup of coffee in the pot. 
I think I will see them again.  Maybe in China after a while, or maybe in the States since they will be there for a while.  Either way that family has ministered to me greatly and taught me so many things, probably without their realizing it.  They have seen me through good and bad days, healthy and sick days, and great adventures.   I look forward to keeping tabs on how the Lord continues to use them in the future. 
Two things I think summarize that goodbye:  First, the look in Cindy’s and I’s eyes as we hugged and exchanged a few words knowing that there was volumes more behind the surface. And second when as Gabe was about to jet off in excitement to security, he turned around and grabbed hold of my arm.  He tugged so I would bend down and listen, and this is what he had to say before leaving on his great adventure, “Devra, can I have a butterfly kiss now?”  I taught him what butterfly kisses are.  They always cheer him up, and probably 2 or 3 times a week either I give him one or he comes and asks for one before bed. 
I think that I left my mark on that family, and I know that they have left theirs on mine.
Now to compliment that large amount of bitter, here is something very sweet.  Today, on Thankful Thursday the countdown dropped below 100 hours till I make it all the way home to Kansas.  I can’t believe it is that soon.
I am spending the next couple days living with a young newly married couple and their neighbors/colleagues who are another long term American family. I think it will be a very fun last couple days. In my 3 days here I have already learned much from them and am enjoying their fellowship.
Thanks to everyone for their prayers. The family is super grateful; please continue to pray for them as they have only just begun their journey.  And thank you for the prayers for my health.  I am feeling much better already!  But please continue to pray.  Thanks!
I pray that all of you are very aware of the things that you are thankful for today…. Enjoy my favorite day of the week!
Less than 100 hours left,

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