by Diane Goodman
I have become aware that when I left the Kenga project I did not do it well. Now as I come to the end of my time in Chad I would like to do better.
I left the Kenga translation project in 2011 on the completion of the New Testament. That was such a busy time of final checks and typesetting, there were no spare moments to think about transitioning out of the project well. But because I was staying in Chad I knew I could say goodbye further down the track, perhaps at the dedication which was more than a year away. But the New Testament dedication time arrived, along with visitors and a new set of time limits, so it didn’t happen then either. Still, no problem – I was staying in Chad and there would be other opportunities to return to the village and say goodbye.
Finally, four years later, with the request to complete the translation of the book of Proverbs for the Kenga, I was given another opportunity to say goodbye. However the timing for the work on Proverbs was tight because of all the people involved. My colleague, who has remained all this time in our house in the village, was leaving for holidays halfway through my time in the Guera. How would that work?
In the end the Lord worked it all out for me, and I found several days to spend in the village before my departure from the region. While I wasn’t able to gather all the key people in one meeting, everyone who had meant a lot to me took time from their responsibilities to visit and I was able to say all my goodbyes.
What has become very clear is that saying goodbye is never going to be easy and finding the time to do it has to be carefully managed. Now is the time to think ahead to when I will pull out of Chad altogether – at this point probably only six or seven months away.
Back in 2013 I wrote in a prayer letter: ‘every other week I want to flee. I am still in a transitional time not just from one project to another but from my role of translating Scripture to language learning and linguistics; transitioning from the village where I was surrounded by the people group I worked with, to the city where I am far from them; from having parents to having no parents; from full health to not such great health and where I often feel weak and tired. It is an unstable time for me.’
So, realistically, I have another period of instability to look forward to as I leave Chad next year. I have the same questions – how to end well, how to cope with all the losses incurred on leaving a place of ministry, how to start again?
But ‘He has brought us this far by His grace …’ and so I trust Him for the future. I am grateful that God took me to Chad, worked on me, settled me and gave me incredible joy and well-being in my work and relationships. I am grateful for all the people I have worked with and for the love that God has lavished on me through them.
I moved away from Tchelme village turning a blind eye rather than truly saying goodbye. I didn’t want to think about the pain of leaving the house I had lived in for more than eight years and all the people there who had been a part of my life. I didn’t want to think about moving on from my partnership with Cindy and what it would be like working on my own. I didn’t want to think about whether the Kenga needed the Old Testament as well as the New. I didn’t want to think about leaving the known for the unknown. I had had enough! I wanted to move. I was ready to leave. The trouble was that when I finally did get the chance to say goodbye, all our lives had moved on and I didn’t want to go back. I still feel it was the right time to leave the Kenga project but I do believe there are healthier ways to leave. This time round I know the importance of putting in the effort and of taking the time necessary to say my goodbyes.
I want to persevere to the end and I want to be able to say with Paul, ‘The time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’ (2 Timothy 4:6–7).
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven …
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 NLT)
This is my season of farewells and new beginnings. Lord, please help me to do it well.