Five months ago, when we were packing up our lives in Manila, I wanted so badly to just stay. I didn't think I could handle anymore tearful farewells and I felt horrible tearing our kids away from our Peace Church family who helped raise our kids. I am still filled with tears when I think back on those painful goodbyes.
|saying goodbye to a friend that's more like a big brother|
|final goodbye at the airport|
I knew that when the doors of the airplane closed, so would the entire life we had built and everything and everyone that was familiar to our kids, everything that was "home," would be instantly gone, never to be rebuilt again. We were loosing it all, at once, and it hurt bad.
I never knew how hard it would be to say goodbye to our life in Manila. The emotions were intense- they still are. And while deeply grieving the farewells and painfully releasing the motherly roles I played in some of our Peace Church members lives, I was also very much looking forward to being with our family in Canada again. On our last day in Manila, I snuck out of our very full house for a quiet moment in our front veranda. I sat down to read two special messages- one from my sister, so full of excitement to have us home again soon, and one from a best friend in Manila, so sad to say her final goodbyes. I sat there and just balled. I had never felt such pain and such joy all at once- it was incredibly overwhelming. The tears flowed during our final farewells and when I saw my parents at the Vancouver airport, my tears flowed again, this time with joy as I hugged my mom and dad and finally introduced them to my baby Jericho. We left our home in Manila, but we were also home again.
What I didn't realize five months ago, when I was so hesitant to leave Manila, was that God had a perfect plan for us. This little town of Yarrow, where we now call home, was exactly what we needed. It wasn't until a few days after we landed in Vancouver that our plans all fell into place- Darnell was asked to pastor Yarrow United Mennonite Church and we could live in the house owned by the church. We'd be just 20 minutes from family and friends in Abbotsford (where the house we own- but now rent out- is) but we'd get to live in this gorgeous little town between the mountains and the river.
|a 5 minute walk from our house!|
|Cody floating in a water hole at the river|
Coming from the cement jungle of Manila, filled with 12 million people, Yarrow, a farming town of about 3,000 people, is entirely different! Instead of frequenting Manila's huge busy malls, our summer was filled with quiet walks to the river, swimming in the fresh cold water, and picking wild blackberries. Instead of a stressful drive to school along 6 lanes of jeepney-filled traffic, our school commute is a walk through fields, surrounded by river and mountains and farm animals. I don't think it could be more different. We welcome the calm of this life- it is rest for our souls.
Cody was given a Canada t-shirt for his birthday that says "Canada: where I call home." I asked him if he agreed, if he felt Canada was home. I expected him to say yes- its been 4 months since we left Manila and he seems so well adjusted and happy here. But he told me, with a sheepish smile, "No, Mom. Its not home for me. But maybe after I'm here a little longer it will feel like home." I understand completely. It takes time, my boy. Despite loving where we are now, feeling totally welcomed by a wonderful community here and enjoying our little town, home doesn't quite describe it yet. But we're building it, everyday. And someday, when Cody says it is home, I'm sure I will shed a tear for Manila again.
It hurts a lot to lose a home, to lose a life. But the pain also means there was much love to lose, and for that I am so deeply grateful. That life- the one where we laughed and struggled with our Peace Church community, the one where we brought two more babies homes, the one where we discipled and were discipled, the one that gave us so much life and energy, passion and purpose- that life is all over. We mourn it yet we rejoice in the full life it was. We thank God for the friendships that will last a lifetime and know that our work and connection to the Philippines will continue forever.
We would like to say a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to the friends, family, and supporters who've carried us through this journey the past 6 years. To the many people who visited us, prayed for us, donated to our work, sent us cards and emails, listened to our stories, hosted us during our Canada visits and loved us as a family and as a Peace Church community, we offer you our gratitude and we thank God for the important role you had in our work in Manila.
All our love and thanks to each one of you,
the Barkmans (Darnell, Christina, Cody, Makai, Teyah and Jericho)