Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

Here's the last email I'll be sending from Reggio Emilia.  On Saturday we got transfer calls, and I was surprised to learn that our companionship is being closed.  Both Anziano Smith and I are going to different cities while Anziani Stoll and Vaclaw will take over all of our work and serve with only the sisters here in Reggio.

I'm going to be really honest in this email, so those of your with weak emotional constitutions may want to click over to YouTube and watch cute cat videos instead.

I can't believe this is happening.  My first emotions were all just sad.  A few times I've felt angry, but only at myself.  If we had found more, taught more, and baptized more, would the companionship have stayed open?  I don't know.

I've made dear, dear friends over the last six months here in Reggio.  And I only have six weeks left.  I thought surely that I would stay here to finish the mission.  Instead, I'm being flung from Roberto, Marco, Godfrey, Festus, Emanuele, Sebastian, Vescovo, the English class students... Sorella Quinton... Anziano Stoll......

And all right before Christmastime.

They'll all stay here.  Anziano Smith will continue on to beautiful Verona, my favorite city in the world, where he will continue into the second year of his mission.  The rest will stay in Reggio and celebrate together, laughing and eating and enjoying the beautiful lights in Centro and the love of the members I've worked with for so long.

Me?  I'm headed to a city I'll barely get to know, with a bunch of people I've never met, just to trudge lonely through the holidays and freeze up in the mountains until I slide back down to Milano and get on a plane.

I keep asking why, and I am getting answers.  Maybe there's someone in Bergamo I need to meet.  
 And I keep hearing that Bergamo is an absolutely gorgeous place, so that's nice.  And in all reality it's only six weeks, so it's not that big of a deal.  It'll pass quickly.  It's just the timing, I guess, and the feeling that God is so aware of what he's doing to me.

He is.  I'm sure He knows what He's doing.  And I'm glad that the mission has brought me to that trust.  I've learned so much from my friends here, especially Anziano Stoll.  He may be one of the best friends I've ever made.  He has such a love for Christ, and for everyone.  It's so hard to say goodbye.

I really changed here in Reggio.  I'll have to tell you all about it one day.  It's amazing, really, how much about the way I think and believe and feel has totally changed for the better.

And maybe that's the point in the end.  Maybe we learn the most when we're the least comfortable. God noticed that I was getting too comfortable here in Reggio and learning less than I can somewhere else.  So He's booting me out.  And while it might smart at first, I bet I'll gleam something beautiful out of it in the end.  There's beauty in everything.  Gather light.

This was a lot longer than I thought it'd be.  Anyway, I love you guys.  Say an extra prayer or two as I try to discover what our God in Heaven has in store.  One more door... one more day... one day more.

Addio, Reggio.
Anziano Burton

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