June 01, 2011

The Goodbyes Begin

The painful process of pulling up our deeply-embedded roots from East Kalimantan has begun.  Our first few years in Tarakan, I would have had a hard time imagining myself depressed at the thought of moving away.  There were times when I could have left and not looked back.  But the longer we stayed the more betah or at home we have felt.

 For months I've been saying to myself, a la Scarlett O'Hara, "I won't think about packing and saying goodbye right now - I'll think about that tomorrow."  Tomorrow has arrived and our goodbyes are beginning. I have always been a sentimental sap - in part thanks to my dad who would often say things to me like, "This is your last Thursday as a third-grader" or "That's the last turkey sandwich you'll eat as a 13-year-old." Silly stuff, but it did ingrain in me the need to "mark the moment" be that moment the end of third grade, or a move across the country.  So my next few posts will "mark the moment" and hopefully help me process the goodbyes in a healthy way so I'm not a mess at the airport when we leave.

Monday I flew with David for the last day of his operational flying in the Apo Kayan region of East Kalimantan.  He wanted to "pamit" or officially take leave of his friends in the villages there, per local custom.  There is also a cultural tradition to "minta maaf" or ask forgiveness from your friends for any possible sins committed against them.  So in each of the villages David gave a little speech about how much he is going to miss the people there, how thankful he is for their friendship, and to forgive him for any possible misunderstandings.

Getting ready to take off in the Kodiak

 David with Taman Bang ("father of Bang") in the village of Mahak Baru.  Taman Bang and his sister, long-time airstrip agents, are good friends of the MAF pilots.  They usually have lunch waiting for the pilot, and Monday was no different.  We feasted on fried chicken, rice, sauteed pakis (ferns), and - what Mahak Baru is famous for - fresh pineapple.  The pineapples from Mahak are the best!!!  

 Taman Bang hacks into a freshly picked nanas (pineapple).

Me with Taman Bang and his daughter.  Taman Bang's sister gave me the necklace.

David receives an ornately-decorted machete from the village elders.

As we flew to other villages, we were likewise showered with kind words and gifts - baskets, hats, sugar cane.  I got choked up watching David fight tears as he said goodbye to friends he's known for almost ten years. 

Flying home that afternoon, my eyes hungrily took in the miles and miles of lush, pristine jungle and I thought of the people who live in the little villages below. Their lives are directly impacted by MAF - like the woman who was one of our passengers that morning.  She told me how she was returning to her village after going to Tarakan for treatment for a miscarriage.  She and her husband have hoped for a baby for five years, and were very disappointed over their recent loss.  "But," she said, "I am so thankful the MAF plane came to get me when it did."

Laden with gifts from interior

 The goodbyes continued today with the departure of Dorkas, a young woman who has lived with our family for the past three years.  She is our house helper Orpa's younger sister, and she worked for us part-time while attending a local high school.  She just graduated, and today she departed for her home island of Sulawesi where she hopes to go to nursing school.  She was a great help to us, and has such a sweet spirit about her.  We will miss her, especially Zoe who would spend hours playing with her in the back yard.

 So I'm hoping that by crying a little bit over the next few weeks, I'll save myself from the really big ugly cry that's been building.


Carrie said...

I suspect the "ugly cry" will still come, but that's okay too. God gave us hearts for people and the ability to develop relationships and He knows how hard those are to leave. I remember my ugly cry when we left Mozambique and I watched our dear friend (and hangar helper = life saver) stand outside the MAF hanger and wave until we couldn't see him anymore. You want to talk about an ugly cry? Yes, it was. I'm happy to hear about Dorkas's plans to become a nurse! Are you guys moving straight to SNT, or will you be Stateside first? I know you'll grow to love SNT too - probably our favorite spot that we worked. :-) Thanks for sharing and blessings to you guys!

Toyin O. said...

Wow, what an awesome trip, thanks for sharing.