Today was my last day in my current position as Field Assignments Something or Other at Compassion International. I'm not usually a weepy person, but as I read the emails from all my coworkers around the world and hugged friends goodbye, I experienced that familiar tightening of my throat and pricking in my eyes.
One of my coworkers, Tonny in Indonesia, sent me a message in which he quoted Green Day (gotta love that) and then said, "You never leave someone behind, you take a part of them with you and leave a part of yourself behind."
I usually eschew platitudes in my snobbishness, but this one struck me as beautifully true today.
I have been thinking lately: What is my legacy? A legacy isn't just something we leave when we die, but something we are creating and leaving every day. We are leaving bits of ourselves behind us, like a trail of crumbs that others find.
In my job, I've enjoyed looking back and seeing the crumbs I've left behind. In sending weekly writing tips to our field countries, I basically wrote a 120-page book on writing. I compiled it and sent it to them as my gift before leaving. I've enjoyed seeing how an Indian computer programmer has learned to tell stories to a Western audience.
Looking back and moving forward, I also hope to leave a legacy of grace - seeds of kindness and encouragement and support scattered along the path I walk. I fail too often and leave seeds of pride and conceit and self-centeredness that I hope the frost of time will wither. But I also hope that God will continue to remind me of how I impact people every day I live by the small choices I make, words I say, and actions I take.
When I think of what I take with me from my time working with people from 26 field countries, they have taught me to chill out. I am the epitome of the time-obsessed Westerner, but from all these "hot culture" countries I've learned to embrace a more island attitude toward life. I've learned to find a more happy time balance - remembering that people are ultimately more important than time...though I still always make my deadlines.
I have also learned how vast and wide are the experiences and cultures in this world, yet each is so unique and beautiful in its own way. God is at work in many places and through many people in the world. We have no corner on that, praise God!
I've also learned so much perspective for daily life. In America, we live sooooooooooo good. The realization of how good we live has been brought back to me today on this anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.
A coworker, Dan Wooley, was trapped in the Haiti earthquake last year and wrote a book about his experiences. In the first pages, he describes Ephraim, my coworker in Haiti. I remember when I first met Ephraim he said, "If you ever meet me, you'll know me because I'm the one who's always smiling and always wearing a straw hat." So Dan's words brought a smile to my face.
My coworkers in Haiti have had a devastating year. One of them had to dig his brother's body out of the rubble many days after the quake. But though they may not smile as much as they did before, they have resilient faith. What else do they have? They believe that God is good and that he is the most important aspect of life in a way that makes my faith seem shallow and hollow.
In my life of relative luxury, working with the field has reminded me over and over again what is important in life. Not this job or that job. Or this income or that home. Not this phone or that car. That all is ultimately meaningless, a chasing after the wind. What matters is family and loving people and most of all, our relationship with the God who created us. What a phenomenal legacy they've left me with.
On a lighter note, here is a picture with my team who had a Canada transition party for me. I'm going to miss everyone so much!