Off to Africa—a timeless farewell moment

farmThe foothills of Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, was our drive today as we travelled to say farewell to young woman heeding the call to serve God in Africa. It seemed fitting that our GPS took us the long route: through rolling hills of tall, green grasses, tree-lined country roads dotted with classic red barns filled with cows, chickens and pigs scrambling around the farm fields. The sun shone warmly through the blue skies that held cotton-ball clouds, as we listened to our children laughing and chatting excitedly in the back seat. We didn’t know what to expect, but when we finally turned the corner onto that graveled-dirt road, we sensed we were in for something special.

It was a surprise going away party for Comella, as our church friend was leaving in just a few days to South Africa to serve in a ministry. We stood next to the pig corrals, admiring the cute little piglets, when Comella drove up. (We were supposed to be in the house already! Oops.) I numbly waved at Comella, fearing we’d blown the secret, as she brightly displayed a huge grin, happy to see our family there. That’s one thing about Comella—she’s always full of joy and it’s rare to see anything get her down (even a foiled surprise party). She got out of the car, and headed over with a big hug for us all. Awkwardly, I apologized for ruining the surprise, only to find out that just moments before, her nephew was spotted driving down the road in front of her, tipping her off to the “surprise.” Comella didn’t care. What a gracious soul this young lady is, and she will take that with her to Africa. She will bless everyone she meets with the glow that radiates from within her out of the love she has for God.

With most of her brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews in tow, friends and family gathered in this old renovated farm house and spent the afternoon talking, eating and watching young children play in the yard. Then a sister in-law decided to break out in a sing-along, and we all did exactly that—sung along in a round. After that, we all held hands in a large, wide circle to speak blessings over Comella before she journeys to this very different place in our world. Tears were shed, hearts were touched, and we all felt a sense of peace among these people that some of us just had met. We all stood there for a moment, a kind of timelessness settling over us. No one moved as peace descended.

Isn’t that just like God? To take a group of people, bring them together through a song and a prayer until strangers simply don’t feel strange anymore, and no one really wants to leave. Time seems to stop in moments like those, where the presence of God is felt in the love we share with others.

This presence, this love, is what Comella plans to bring with her as she serves in Africa, desiring to please her Lord, and knowing these next steps will be life changing ones. She has experienced the love of God, and once you’ve known that kind of love, you’re never the same—you can never be the same again. Comella certainly isn’t. She beams with the love of God.

Comella and child
Comella and child

Farewells were said, and moving slowly, almost reluctantly, we got back into our minivan, savoring the moment; those shared experiences that seem surreal, as if God stepped in and took time away just so we could sense life that way; like a slice of heaven on earth.

May all the missionaries in this world be able to bring a touch of heaven to earth in their selfless work, and may God bless everyone with moments like what we experienced today in the foothills of Blue Mounds—a peace that descends like a warm hug, cradling our souls with His love.

If you’d like to give to Comella’s missionary work, you can donate at this link (just make sure to put her name in the comment section): donate to Comella’s mission