I must admit, I didn’t think it would be this difficult to say goodbye to my friends in Buenos Aires.
I spent the last week visiting the Bible students one last time. As I would leave each of them for the final time, I felt it: a knot in my stomach. Part of is that I got close to them. Part of it is that it brought me so much joy to see them progress. Part of it is that I hope they continue to do so. I know they are in good hands and that the brothers here will take care of them. But it’s still hard. Not only did they appreciate the truths they were learning from the Bible, but they appreciated me personally. That makes me feel good, but it makes leaving so much harder. Many gave me gifts. As I write this, I’m wearing some of them. They are mementos of the wonderful people whose lives I was privileged to touch.
And then there are the brothers here. They were my life for the past two years. They helped me in so many ways. Many helped with language issues. Many provided transportation and meals. Many invited me to work with them in the ministry. Daniel Villalon, in particular, was a tremendous help. I remember meeting him back in June 2009. I thought to myself, “If all the brothers in Argentina are like this, I want to stay here.”
Of course, as brothers, we always help each other. We have come to expect that. But I really have to thank the brothers here for doing even more than that. They let me into their hearts. I underestimated how close I became with them. Last night, amidst all the hugs and kind words, I realized how much they mean to me. And now, as I sit in the airport awaiting my flight, I feel that knot in my stomach again.
Hmm, I just got a text with a song lyric: “Goodbye is a crummy little word. Goodbye is the worst word around. I’ll skip that word of you don’t mind.” Apropos, no?
My plane is about to board. But in that same spirit, I won’t say goodbye. I have a feeling that one day soon, I’ll be back at this airport.
See you soon, Buenos Aires.