Talk about being far behind on blog posts – this particular post is long overdue! I’ve mentioned it many times before: I really hate goodbyes. Pretty ironic that my life has become a series of goodbyes. I live away from all of my family, Justin’s family live on a different continent to mine, we met in a third country, and now we live in a fourth. No matter where we decided to live – one thing is inevitable, we will always have someone to say goodbye to. Living in China has proved to be filled with numerous challenges, and yet it is here that we have forged some of the most incredible bonds with friends from all over the world.
Every year, when summer rolls round, some leave and others arrive. In this expat life that we live, you could call it the “circle of friendship”. This year seemed harder than any of the others that I have experienced since moving abroad. It was definitely a year full of rich encounters and meaningful growth, which brings deeper relationships, and also makes goodbyes even harder.
I grew particularly fond of my friend McKenzie during the last year, and I have to admit that I dreaded her and her family leaving China. They are now living in Austria, and our little family of three has moved into their old apartment. Writing this post now, over two months after the fact, is definitely easier than it would have been if I had tried to write it when they left. Let’s just say that there were many tears shed, and for weeks afterward it felt like they were just on vacation and would be back after the summer. Moving into their apartment was wonderful and weird all at once, but that’s another story (which I will blog about soon).
Our last fellowship before McKenzie and her family left for Austria, was bitter sweet. It was great to have everyone together, but sad to know that things would never be the same after that day. It was not only McKenzie leaving, but another good friend, Angie, too. I had prayed and prayed for these women, and it felt like almost every one of those answered prayers was moving on. In the last year, five very important women have left Qingdao, and although I know God will bring new friends into my life – it honestly feels like these five women cannot be replaced!
McKenzie had lived in China for over a decade, and I wanted her to leave knowing how much she would be missed. Thanks to Facebook, and the ability it gives you to stalk almost anyone, I was able to go through McKenzie’s pictures, looking for familiar faces and names that she had spoken about. I messaged her old friends – anyone that I thought she had been close with in China – and asked them to send me a goodbye message for her and her family. The responses that I got were truly amazing. In fact, this project brought me to tears on many occasions. It was clear that The Klugs had made a big impact on many lives during their time in China.
Although I had printed most of the responses, they were still rolling in when I got to fellowship on our last Sunday together. I hid in a spare bedroom writing the last few messages into the book by hand. I’m not a fan of last minute projects (and yet I always seem to find myself doing them), but I really wanted to make sure that every single message that was sent made it’s way into the book.
McKenzie was over the moon when I gave her the book. She paged through it quickly and said that she couldn’t possibly read it. Truthfully, I couldn’t have watched her read it either. Just seeing her look at it made me emotional. In the above picture you can see me with McKenzie (middle) and Angie (right). There’s no denying that my time in China will not be the same without these women here.
Our community – LSNS 2015
Goodbyes are never easy, but in time I know that God will fill the gaps that I now feel. I love our new apartment, our new neighbourhood, and the fact that we have so much room to grow, but I sure do wish that our friends didn’t have to leave.