A little over two weeks ago, I sat in the airport, waiting for my sister’s plane to arrive. Waiting for my two worlds to collide. My heart pounded. I was more nervous than excited. Questions kept popping into my mind. How would this work out? Would she be the same girl who said goodbye to me at an airport on the other side of the world over two years ago? I knew I wasn’t who I was then. Would we still be friends? Would it be awkward? And worst of all, what would she think of my world? Would she love my friends and my CYIA teens as much as I do? After falling in love with Kenya, would she have room in her heart for Madagascar? For my world?
Then, there she was. Standing in the doorway as her passport was checked. But, was it her? She looked so different. I walked toward her, heart still pounding like crazy. What was I suppose to do? For two and a half years, I have greeted people with handshakes no matter how excited I am to see them. Running toward someone and wrapping my arms around them was something the old Tara would do. After a moments hesitation, I walked toward her and gave her a hug. It’s what she would expect. What is expected in the world I used to be a part of. I watched her as we got in the car and wondered, was this really my little sister? The one I have always loved to death and so enjoy talking to? What was I suppose to talk to her about now that we were together for more than two whole week after being apart for more than two whole years?
A little over two weeks later, I walked into the airport with her and a bunch of my friends, my Malagasy family. I couldn’t believe it was already time for her to go. She had loved my friends and my CYIA teens like I do. She laughed with them, talked with them, walked arm and arm with them, and despite language barriers, she was a fast favorite among them all. And when we were alone, it was even better then it used to be. No, she wasn’t the same girl I left behind over two years ago. Neither was I. But we started right where we left off. The laughing, teasing, and fun was never ending. But even more importantly, we could talk about anything. I gained new perspective on ministry and areas I need to be doing a better job in. I heard what she thought about things I am struggling with. She knows me better than pretty much anyone, completely understands my weaknesses, where I have been, and the things I struggle with. As I watched her walk alone, toward the ticket counter, Rinoh standing by me and talking to me, doing what he always does, making sure everyone is ok, I couldn’t believe what a blessing the last two weeks had been, not only in the sense of how much fun we had had and the adventures, but how much I learned about myself and the direction I need to go with CYIA and how to better deal with certain challenges. While my goal was to make her stay here a blessing to her, I knew she had turned the tables. While I was sad to see her disappear past the security gate, I was more happy than anything. Yeah, I’d miss her sooo much, but….. the last few weeks had been so perfect, how could I be sad? And I was sending her to see her family in Kenya for one more day, and then back to the States where her world is, at least for now anyway.
We turned and walked out of the airport, back to my purely Malagasy world. No more English. The girls and I walked arm in arm as usual, everyone laughing and teasing each other as we went to find rice for lunch. We sat in a very Malagasy roadside ‘restaurant’ and ate rice. We talked. Reminisced. They started talking to my about my furlough, and as much as I didn’t want to talk about it, I knew I needed to, for them. They talked to me about how they were going to ask me if we could hang out at my house for independence day next year, since they wouldn't have anywhere else to go, and then realized I wouldn’t be there. They talked about how they wouldn’t be able to stop by my house. Wondered if I would still speak Malagasy when I got back, and how they thought we would all need to wear sunglasses when we went to the airport so no one would see us cry. And then we climbed into the bus to head home. As we road away from the airport, my eyes filled with tears. Not because my sister had left, but because I knew the next time we all traipsed to the airport would be the day I have been dreading. I knew I would be the next one to leave. Furlough loomed just ahead, way closer than I wanted it to be. As Rinoh, Lanto and I discussed the spacing of the hills between the road we were on and the mountain we went to the other day, why we couldn’t see the mountain from where we where and what the distance and height of the hills, the road, and the mountain had to do with it, I wanted to cry. How I wanted to never leave them, to always be there for them, to never hurt them. But I knew, from the perspective Christa had given me about furlough and our faithful loving God, that He and He alone can be their everything and do what I can’t do for them. And I knew I would treasure every minute with them all the more and pray for them even harder and do my best to make the transition easy for everyone.
As we planned for a photo viewing party at my house to look at all the pictures from CYIA and hanging out with Christa, I once again couldn’t believe how perfectly she had collided with my world, how much they all loved her and had so readily accepted her as one of us. What a perfectly wonderful time it was, a beautiful collision.