Wow, for a guy who has kept a blog since 2005, the long, long absence here is a bit over the top. I have written quite a bit in the last few months but nothing I felt like blasting out on the blog here. This one comes out of reflection after 10 months in our new city. Lots of things have changed for us over the last year and a half. A move back from Nepal to the Sates, adjustment to life with a toddler, continual mourning of the loss of my mom, and the constant journey of the ebb and flow of friendships due to relocation.
The latter is where I find myself thinking this week. We have lived with people on the move for the last 8 years or so and learning from those in the Bhutanese-Nepali community has been life-changing. Our actual city has changed a few times as well in that time and we have had to say goodbye to a lot of folks dear to our hearts. Sometimes the goodbyes have been extremely disappointing, knowing there is no way possible we’ll see those guys again. Other times there has just been some real painful stuff with people where you have to close the door for your own health and well-being. The one that really gets me is the folks that you feel like you’ll remain close to forever, but as geographical distance separates you, so goes the relational connection. The conversations and texts become fewer and fewer and that friend becomes sort of a distant memory.

A lot of our friends are former refugees and they move a lot. They move within the same city, out of state, and sometimes even out of the country. It just feels like there is constant movement and loss. I realized this week that feeling is sort of overwhelming and can cause me at times to retreat and not invest as deeply as I once did in relationships. There is also a sense from my Nepali friends that nothing is really set in stone. . . we can’t really know that this friend or that relationship will remain as things change. Uprootedness and being stateless for 20 years will certainly do that to you. So I sort of walk this tension of trying to give my whole heart, really lay my life down for those I grow close to. . . . but it sure isn’t easy. In a moment those dear to us could slip from our grasp.

We have a college student, Molly, serving with us in our ministry right now. She has come over from Colorado and she has just been able to step right in, develop conversational Nepali, and bond with Nepalis so well. I’d put her up against any missionary I know despite her being so young. In that process though, she has grown so close to Charity, Amos, and I. It is as if we’ve known her our whole lives and we’ve been able to form a bond with her that I really can’t compare to anything we’ve ever experienced. Tears are shed together, laughs fill the air, amazing compatibility in ministry is happening. She has become the kind of friend where we just want to be together to sacrifice together, to love each other well – all of us would willingly do anything for one another.

Molly has a month remaining on her term here and there is certainly a promising possibility that she’ll return here to work long-term. But that isn’t a given. She is helping us realize though, that it is just so worth it to keep investing, keep risking, and keep loving.  

Without a whole lot of loss and a whole lot of transition, none of the relationships that have sprung up all around us would be happening. Without brokenness and loss our friends from Bhutan wouldn’t be here. Without us walking away from an amazing community in Minnesota, we would have never gone to Nepal. And without the crazy losses we experienced in Nepal, we wouldn’t be here able to risk and love yet again in this new context.

As weird as it may sound I sort of hate moving. I don’t like all this uprooting and moving around. It sort of drives me crazy to try to relearn a new neighborhood, build trust, and on and on. But here we are. . . . looking loss in the face. . .holding our ears to drown out the screams of Satan that tell us that it just isn’t worth it. The lies that say it isn’t worth it to uproot. It isn’t worth it to give your heart away. It isn’t worth it to cry with new friends and rejoice when the time is right. We close our ears to those things right now and we feel deeply, we invest, we listen, we spend a lot of time with neighbors. And we trust Jesus with all our hearts that He knows what He is doing.

So our little team – Charity, Molly, Amos and I are being surrounded by amazing Nepali friends. People that want us in their lives. We’ve had people tell us stuff so deeply emotional and personal that you just walk away in disbelief that we are invited into it. A young man admitted to our little team being the only Americans he has met in 6 years in this country who have learned his language and really understand where he has come from. That broke me, not because we are doing anything extra special but because this sort of depth is possible for so many. Countless stories to share here, but we keep risking, keep trying.

So there is what is going on after my long silence. I don’t know what neighbors will move tomorrow or who may come into our lives unexpectedly, but I choose not to fear. I choose love in the midst of a lot of loss and abandonment. I choose not to listen to the shouts and cries of the enemy who would try to get us to stop investing and loving. There are just too many good friends far and near who continue to shine so bright for Christ and care for us. We’ve experienced such deep love of our Savior so here we are. . . laying our lives down once more. Charity, Molly, Amos . . . thanks for teaching me this over the last few months and showing me what hope looks like.